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Equal Trust: An Experiment Exploring the Impact of Interactivity and Sources on Individuals' Perceptions of Credibility for Online News Stories
Unformatted Document Text:  8 sources). In their experimental analysis scrutinizing users’ judgments of online news stories, they found that various source types were associated with different judgments of liking, quality, and representativeness, though not with credibility. One factor contributing to the lack of impact on credibility may have been their inattention to manipulating levels of interactivity within stories. The current project tentatively builds on this line of research by probing how variations in multimedia content and source shape people’s perceptions of credibility. Specifically, we focus on source identification. Thus, we do not use all the source categories provided in the Sundar and Nass typology. We also differ by using the slightly different label of identification rather than visibility because visibility somewhat implies the presence of an image to represent a source, which was not our intention here. Even though having the image of a journalist in a story is easier in online channels than in traditional media channels, most online news outlets tend to identify them via text. As far as identified sources in news stories, researchers frequently use the journalist reporting the story or communicators in the story itself as examples of identified sources (e.g., Hovland & Weiss, 1951; Sundar, 1996, 1998). Thus, in a story involving the president of the United States, one identified source would be the president himself while another would be the journalist reporting the story. When it comes to journalists, in some cases their identification is easily apparent (such as when broadcast journalists are conducting an interview or a byline is given in print), but in other cases it is not. Despite the fact that research is scant on the impact of source identification on credibility, some empirical work indicates that as people become for familiar with sources over time, the more they trust information coming from them (e.g., Zucker, 1986;

Authors: Kiousis, Spiro.
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8
sources). In their experimental analysis scrutinizing users’ judgments of online news
stories, they found that various source types were associated with different judgments of
liking, quality, and representativeness, though not with credibility. One factor
contributing to the lack of impact on credibility may have been their inattention to
manipulating levels of interactivity within stories. The current project tentatively builds
on this line of research by probing how variations in multimedia content and source shape
people’s perceptions of credibility. Specifically, we focus on source identification. Thus,
we do not use all the source categories provided in the Sundar and Nass typology. We
also differ by using the slightly different label of identification rather than visibility
because visibility somewhat implies the presence of an image to represent a source,
which was not our intention here. Even though having the image of a journalist in a story
is easier in online channels than in traditional media channels, most online news outlets
tend to identify them via text.
As far as identified sources in news stories, researchers frequently use the
journalist reporting the story or communicators in the story itself as examples of
identified sources (e.g., Hovland & Weiss, 1951; Sundar, 1996, 1998). Thus, in a story
involving the president of the United States, one identified source would be the president
himself while another would be the journalist reporting the story. When it comes to
journalists, in some cases their identification is easily apparent (such as when broadcast
journalists are conducting an interview or a byline is given in print), but in other cases it
is not. Despite the fact that research is scant on the impact of source identification on
credibility, some empirical work indicates that as people become for familiar with
sources over time, the more they trust information coming from them (e.g., Zucker, 1986;


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