Perceptions of News Credibility about the War in Iraq: Why War Opponents Perceived the Internet as the Most Credible Medium

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Abstract

This study investigated cross-media credibility perception with respect to news coverage about the Iraq War. In an environment of political partisanship, perceptions of media credibility were likely affected by the audience’s political position on the war. Based on hostile media effect theory, a set of hypotheses was proposed to investigate whether the minority opinion group, war opponents, evaluated the Internet as a more credible medium than did neutrals or supporters. An online survey was conducted to which 481 people responded (71% war supporters, 19% opponents, 10% neutrals). Results showed that opponents of the war perceived the Internet as less aligned with a pro-government position and as more credible than did neutrals or supporters. The opponent group also showed a strong negative correlation between perceived pro-government alignment and perceptions of Internet credibility. For the minority partisan group, the diversity of information and views on the war was the main reason for the perception of high credibility of the Internet as a news channel.

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