How do people make sense of, and deal with, a changing media landscape perceived to be filled with misinformation and fake news? To answer this, we draw upon data from seventy-one in-depth interviews in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami. We found that perceptions about the overall media ecosystem were characterized by a: a) negative view of the current quality of news reporting, b) particular distrust of news circulation on social media; and c) concern about the effects of these trends mainly on the information habits of others. To counter these perceptions, participants indicated to rely on: a) traditional fact-based media, accompanied by a rejection of opinionated outlets; b) personal experience and knowledge; c) repetition of information across outlets; d) consumption of cross-ideological sources; e) fact-checking; and f) trust in certain personal contacts on social media, who are perceived as assessors of news quality. Our findings suggest that: a) news consumption is being ritualized in new and more personalized ways; b) social media is seen as a gateway to news partly because audiences find opinion leaders in terms of their skills as credibility assessors; and c) journalism could cater more to audiences’ demands for more fact-oriented and less discussion-based content.
"The Reception of Fake News: The Interpretations and Practices That Shape the Consumption of Perceived Misinformation." Digital Journalism, 2019.