Theses Doctoral

Building Trust in the News: U.S. and German Journalists Respond to Political Polarization

Nechushtai, Efrat

This dissertation explores how journalists in the United States and Germany have been addressing declining levels of trust and attacks on their credibility. I comparatively examine how journalists interpret the trust crisis, and consequently, the strategies they have developed for addressing it. This study is based on multi-site ethnography: I interviewed 87 journalists, conducted observations in 15 local and national newsrooms, and examined metajournalism from the United States and Germany. Findings show that U.S. and German journalists interpret declining trust and anti-media sentiments differently: U.S. journalists believe they stem from information gaps and lacking media literacy, while German journalists believe they reflect a sense of alienation. And so, in their efforts to gain credibility, U.S. journalists focus on increasing transparency and showcasing their professionalism, while German journalists focus on increasing reciprocity and showing that they listen to criticism from outside the profession. As this dissertation shows, both U.S. and German news media are thoroughly professionalized, but their different relationships to their audiences and communities shape different perceptions on — and strategies for — trust building.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Schudson, Michael S
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 17, 2020