When Newspaper Reporters Blog: The Credibility of News and Blogs That Match

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When Newspaper Reporters Blog: The Credibility of News and Blogs That Match
or Mismatch People’s Socio/Political Leanings













Submitted to the Newspaper Division/Multimedia Practices of the


Association for the Educa
tion in Journalism and Mass Communication


Conference, Aug. 6
-
9, 2008, Chicago






Newspaper Bloggers

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2

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Abstract

Hostile
-
media
-
effects research suggests news consumers identify in even the most
eve
n
-
handed news stories a preponderance of bias against their own position. The present
experiment searched for hostile
-
media effects in people’s responses to news stories and
blogs that were either consistent or inconsistent with their own socio/political
orientation.
Surprisingly, people evaluated news stories as more credible than even blogs they agreed
with. These results are interpreted in terms of the influence of variables that may have
large influences on the processing of news and blogs: social pr
esence, expertise and
coorientation.

















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Even t
hough blogs exploded on the Internet, they were only slowly adopted by
professional journalists and the mainstream American press. These online journals, or
“web logs” comprised of links and po
stings in reverse chronological order, largely
developed a reputation over the last few years for taking aim at the mainstream media,
often with biting political comment. Thanks to the Internet and special self
-
publishing
software, citizen journalists from

myriad streams of life could take on legacy news media
for what many characterized as unacknowledged biases, shallowness and arrogance,
among a host of other complaints. Some bloggers also began breaking significant news,
perhaps most notably during the 2
004 presidential election. When Dan Rather and CBS
news rushed a flawed report on President Bush’s disputed National Guard record onto the
airwaves, bloggers challenged the authenticity of a key memo on which the report was
based, and CBS eventually backed

down (Gillmor, 2006).

Today, as mainstream newsrooms continue to experience devastating losses in
audience and advertisers, citizen blogs are flourishing, unbounded by the physical,
financial and legal constraints of mainstream publishing and broadcastin
g. Blog search
engine Technorati reports more than 70 million blogs worldwide (Sifry, 2007), with an
average of one new blog launching every second and more than a million new posts
uploaded each day (Gillmor, 2006). A Pew Internet & American Life Project
survey in


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2006 found 8 percent of Internet users, or about 12 million American adults, keep a blog,
while 39 percent of Internet users, or roughly 57 million American adults, read blogs
(Pew, 2006).

Now mainstream media are embracing this form of writing.

According to one
national survey, Web traffic to the blog pages of the top 10 online newspapers grew 210
percent from late 2005 to late 2006 (Nielsen/NetRatings, 2006). CyberJournalist.net
keeps a comprehensive list of blogs by and about journalists, an
d these blogs cover an
array of topics and number in the hundreds (Dube, 2008). The most successful ones by
professional journalists share some of the same characteristics as blogs by non
-
journalists, including distinctive author voice (Gillmor, 2006). A
t the heart of this
endeavor are questions fundamental to more than a century of mainstream journalism and
its core values: What happens to people’s perceptions of professional journalists’
credibility and authority when those journalists pull down the vei
l of objectivity and blog
with voice and attitude? The reluctance of the mainstream press to adopt blogs because of
such a threat may be justified. Or has the Internet simply re
-
defined notions of
credibility?

This study seeks to explore these and other i
mpacts in an experiment that
examines the influence of blogs and traditional news stories by online newspaper
journalists, as well as the credibility of each. Though many blogs are highly political,
this study explores “liberal” and “conservative” ideas m
ore from a social than a partisan
standpoint. Our experiment seeks to advance theory by testing two types of news
messages
––

traditional news stories and blogs
––

the latter of socially liberal or
conservative bent; by introducing psychological variables
as mediators; and by assessing


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credibility of the stories and the Web sites that carry them as dependent variables. To test
the perceived influence of blogs and stories, our research borrows heavily from the rich
tradition of hostile
-
media effects research

and Reeves and Nass’ theory of media reality.

Literature review

Hostile
-
media effect

A cursory look at research on hostile
-
media effects (HME) suggests no current
research has been done on blogs, which makes blogging an area ripe for theorizing. The
hos
tile
-
media effect describes the tendency of people who are highly involved in an issue
to see news coverage of that issue as biased, particularly against their own viewpoint. An
oft
-
cited example are letters to the editor from partisan readers. Each side a
rgues the
news is slanted toward their opponents. In the first published experiment demonstrating
the effect, Vallone, Ross and Lepper (1985) showed news broadcasts of the conflict in the
Middle East to Arab and Israeli students and found that both groups

saw the news as
biased in favor of the other side, while nonpartisans saw the same content as neutral.
Subsequent research explored this same divisive issue, often showing strong support for
the effect (Giner
-
Sorolla & Chaiken, 1994; Perloff, 1989), while

others took on similarly
divisive issues. Christin, Kannaovakun & Gunther (2002), for instance, demonstrated
hostile
-
media effects with highly partisan participants


UPS managers and Teamsters


during the 1997 United Parcel Service strike.

Since the Va
llone, Ross & Lepper study (1985), scholars have published findings
from at least a dozen experiments. Key in many of these studies is a person’s strong sense
of group identification and membership, either social or political in nature, though some
studies

argue such identification may not be necessary (Gunther, Christin, Liebhart &


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Chia, 2001). Gunther and Schmitt (2004) suggest research on this perceptual variable has
been growing in part, perhaps, because it shows the critical role of audience variables

in
mass communication processes, offering alternatives to traditional notions that the media
have powerful, homogenizing effects on everyone. The authors also noted similar logic
behind the third
-
person effect (TPE), which posits people will perceive mor
e influence of
an undesirable communication on others than on themselves (Davison, 1983), with that
perceived influence increasing as the audience expands or becomes more distant from the
self (Cohen, Mutz, Price & Gunther, 1989). In the case of hostile
-
m
edia effects, Gunther
and Schmitt’s (2004) experimental study on the genetically
-
modified
-
food debate
revealed that if partisans consider messages only in terms of their own opinions, they will
see the messages as neutral or favorable, while viewing the sa
me messages as biased in a
hostile direction when considering influence on others (Gunther & Schmitt, 2004).

One of the most important findings of their study is the effect seems to kick in
only when the message is distributed via a
mass

medium, as oppose
d to a message in a
student essay read by few. In other words, the distribution source triggers a different
perceptual process in partisan readers. The authors argue more research needs to flesh out
this effect in a variety of communication forms.

Psycholo
gical concepts

When people process news, they look for a human being behind it (Newhagen &
Nass, 1988). Guiding much of our experiment is Reeves and Nass’ (1996) media
-
equation theory, which argues people’s interactions with computers, television and other

media are fundamentally social, much like interactions in real life. Their evidence
includes at least 35 studies that recreated a range of social and natural experiences but


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with media taking the place of real people and places (Reeves & Nass, 1996). Key
to
their conception of the media equation is that not only is the
technology

of the medium
important but also the
psychology

of those who use it. Media
-
equation research falls
squarely in line with decades of research into the dynamics of interpersonal
com
munication, from dyads to large
-
group interactions. As such, this experiment
examines the concepts of coorientation and social presence in relation to people’s
perceptions of traditional news stories and blogs.

Coorientation

Most research on coorientation,

or how people identify with each other based on
shared ideas, has been conducted since the mid
-
1960s and is an eclectic synthesis of five
older schools of thought dating back to 1902 (McLeod & Chaffee, 1973). Contemporary
research has looked at everything

from teenagers’ coorientation behavior toward pop
music (Clarke, 1973) to the ways scientists view newspaper reporters based on personal
contacts with them (Ryan, 1982).

In a special edition of
American Behavioral Scientist

devoted to explicating
coorient
ation, Wackman (1973) identified three coorientation dependent variables useful
in interpersonal research: 1) Agreement, or the similarity between two people’s
cognitions about an object; 2) Congruence, or the similarity between one person’s
cognition abou
t an object and estimate of another person’s cognition about that object; 3)
Accuracy, or the similarity between one person’s
estimate
of another’s cognitions about
an object and that other person’s
actual

cognitions about the object.

Because the journali
sts in this experiment are not real, and therefore agreement
and accuracy cannot be measured, this study measures congruence to capture


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participants’ awareness and perceptions of the writers of the stories and the writers’ ideas
about various topics. This
study seeks to expand on recent findings that suggest perceived
story credibility could in part be a product of coorientation (Meyer, Marchionni &
Thorson, 2007).

Social presence

Short, Williams and Christie

(1976)

introduced social presence 30 years ago,
drawing on scholarship that seeks to explain the social phenomena of mediated
environments. They defined presence as “the degree of salience of the other person in the
interaction and the consequent salience of the interpersonal relationship”
(
67
)
. Because

of
the range of research, the concept has no true disciplinary home and numerous definitions
(Hamman, 2006). Indeed, researchers have explored everything from social responses to
computers (Reeves & Nass, 1996; Lee, 2006) to presence in virtual reality (B
iocca,
1997).

Underlying much of this research is Reeves and Nass’ (1996) idea that people
treat media as though they were human. They argue this happens because human brains
evolved in a world in which all perceived objects were real and only humans poss
essed
human
-
like shapes and human
-
like characteristics, such as language, emotion and
personality. Anything that seemed real or possessed human characteristics
was

a real
human (Reeve & Nass, 1996). Nass and his colleagues’ research around “Computers Are
Social Actors” (CASA) found people automatically apply social rules in their interactions
with computers as if the machines were human (Reeves & Nass, 1996). More recent
research along these lines has explored normative group influences in computer
-
mediate
d
communication (Lee & Nass, 2002); computers that convey empathic emotions (Brave &


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Nass, 2005); and the creation of social presence through machine
-
generated voices (Lee
and Nass, 2005).

This experiment focuses on

social
-
presence research concerning int
erpersonal
communication in an online environment. Personal
-
communication researchers identify
three dimensions of social presence: (1) source attention, defined as the degree to which
the source is focused on relative to other cues, (2) co
-
presence, or th
e feeling of existing
with another person, and (3) mutual awareness or psychological involvement
––

the
feeling of being “known” by another
(Biocca et al., 2001; Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997;
Tamborini & Skalski, 2005)
. This stream of interpersonal communication research
defines social presence as the degree of psychological involvement or salie
nce of real
people communicating through a mediated environment. This definition is similar to
Short, Williams and Christie’s
(1976)

by characterizing social presence as a feature of a
medium, not the user. They argued
that the social presence of a medium varied according
to the number of social cues it offered.

Many current researchers, however, define social presence not as a characteristic
of the medium but rather how participants use the medium to communicate
(Gunawardena, 1995; Swan, 2002)
. Consistent with this approach, the present experiment
draws on features of both the medium and user, defining social presence as a measure of
a psychological fee
ling of distance that can vary depending on the characteristics of the
medium and the message. We focused on how journalists can alter the characteristics of a
news article in order to increase perceptions of social presence.



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In light of the preceding dis
cussion on how readers respond to media messages
depending on their own political views and on the importance of key psychological
variables in their responses, we offer the following hypotheses in each condition:

Traditional news stories
-


H1:

The host
ile media effect suggests that both liberals and conservatives will be
slightly negative to news stories because
,

in spite of their “balance
,
” each side will see its
tenets denigrated.

Blogs
-

H2a:

Liberals will respond positively to blogs that are support
ive of their own
position. Their response to liberal blogs is likely to be more positive than to news stories.

H2b:

Conservatives will respond positively to blogs that are supportive of their
own position. Their response to conservative blogs is likely t
o be more positive than to
news stories.

Credibility

Because of the news media’s longstanding reliance on the ideal of objectivity and
its role in credibility, increasing social variables in stories potentially could harm
people’s trust of the media. Defin
itions of media
-
related credibility abound in the
literature. Generally, credibility is defined as a multidimensional construct that measures
the perceived believability of a message (article), source (journalist or media company)
or medium (newspaper, Web

site, radio station, etc.). Partly in response to findings that
people rated TV news as more credible than newspapers, despite the lack of depth and
completeness, Gaziano and McGrath (1986) created a 12
-
item scale that included
questions measuring fairnes
s and community concern and that loaded onto a single


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factor, credibility. However, Meyer (1988) found their results indicated two factors,
believability and community concern, and created a scale reflecting both. Many current
credibility measures draw on
both scales, including this experiment. Thus, this study
defines credibility as material produced that the audience views as 1.) factual and
accurate (believability dimension) and 2.) concerned mainly with the community’s
interest (community
-
affiliation di
mension) (Meyer, 1988). Further, the experiment
assesses credibility at the level of the article, source (Web site) and owners of the source
(organization).

Expertise

Closely related to credibility is the concept of expertise. Source credibility
attracted
the attention of social psychologists as a result of the work of Carl Hovland and
his colleagues at Yale University in the 1950s. Hovland, Janis and Kelley (1953)
proposed an approach to attitude and change that includes four determinants: source,
message,

recipient and channel. Hovland et al. (1953) suggested a two
-
dimensional
measure of source credibility, “trustworthiness” and “expertise,” arguing a receiver’s
tendency to accept a speaker’s message would depend on the receiver’s perception of
how informe
d and intelligent the speaker is and how motivated the speaker is to make
valid assertions. Among the indicators of expertise is similarity to receiver in status,
values, interests and needs, or, taken together, social background.

More recently, Perloff (2
003) argued expertise, or special skills or know
-
how, is a
core characteristic of credible communicators. This experiment asks participants about
their perceptions of credibility and reporters’ expertise in the mock news stories, using
Perloff’s definition

of the concept.



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In light of the close connection between 1.) expertise and credibility and 2.)
Newhagen and Nass’ findings (1988) that newspaper credibility is most accounted for by
the institution, which people view as cold, and that people seek a human

presence in
news, we hypothesize that expertise and credibility are not just rational but social
concepts. In addition, we suggest differences in perceptions between liberals and
conservatives:


H3a:

In traditional stories and conservative blogs, liberal
s will report low levels
of perceived expertise and article, Web site and organizational credibility but high levels
of all four measures in liberal blogs.

H3b:

In traditional stories and liberal blogs,
conservatives

will report low levels
of perceived exp
ertise and perceived article, Web site and organizational credibility but
high levels of all four measures in conservative blogs.

Method

We used a mixed
-
method design of within
-

and between
-
participants factors. For
the within measures, each respondent rea
d four articles (two blogs and two traditional
stories), though the blogs were

either

conservative or liberal for the between measures.
Including participants’ political affinity, then, we ended up with a three
-
way 2 (news
story vs. blog) by 2 (conservativ
e blog vs. liberal) by 7 (self
-
described political affinity
on a 7
-
point scale) full
-
factorial design.

We recruited 152 college students from a large Midwestern university to read four
different news stories and respond to the same block of questions afte
r each story and a
final block at the end of the study. Of that sample, 147 completed the entire
questionnaire. For the five who did not, we replaced their missing values with the


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regressed
-
mean average score. More than 49% of the respondents were freshme
n, while
another 33% were sophomores, 14% were juniors, 3% were seniors and 1% were
graduate students. The average age of all participants was 19. The sample predominantly
was female (70%) and white (80%) but did include African
-
Americans (4%), Asians
(3%)

and Hispanics (9%). The political affinity of participants was (52%) socially liberal
and (36%) socially conservative. About 12 % reported they were neutral.

Independent variables (IVs)

Article type (traditional vs. blog, manipulated)

The four news storie
s covered topics of potential interest to students: professors’
use of plagiarism software, college drinking, steroids in college sports and job prospects
after college. All articles were roughly 8
-
10 newspaper column inches, each fitting on a
computer sc
reen, to control for story length as a potential confound. (
See Appendix 1.
)

The within
-
subjects design allowed each participant to read one story in each of
the news conditions and to serve as his or her own control, minimizing the number of
participants
needed in each condition. Participants were randomly assigned to eight Web
sites that presented the stories in a different order, or counterbalanced, to ensure the order
in which they read the stories did not prejudice their responses. The experiment took
most students less than 30 minutes to complete.

We obtained the articles from news Web sites but manipulated them to make
them apply to our university and to conform to our experimental conditions. We changed
all names and media identifiers, but we used fr
ames from real news Web sites in the
Midwestern state to attach organizational credibility to the articles.



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The news
-
story condition received the least manipulation because all the stories
initially came from news Web sites. We ensured these stories cont
ained almost no
language that would elicit participants’ feelings of social presence or coorientation with
the reporter. That is, we made sure the stories upheld the objective standards and format
of traditional inverted
-
pyramid news stories.

The blogs,
on the other hand, took on a conversational tone that clearly expressed
the author’s point of view with evaluative language spoken in first
-
person. Each blog was
clearly labeled as such and included an “editor’s note” that it was written by a newspaper
sta
ff writer.

Blog (conservative vs. liberal, manipulated)

As mentioned above, each blog clearly conveyed the personal opinion of its
writer. We manipulated key words and phrases in each blog to convey the writer’s
political affinity but left all else the sa
me to control for unintended differences between
socially conservative and socially liberal blogs.

Political affinity (7
-
point scale, measured)

We measured participants’ political affinity with a single question at the end of
the study that asked, “On the
following scale, please rate your general stance on social
issues, such as universal health care, unemployment and welfare.” On the scale, “1”
indicated liberal while “7” indicated conservative.

Dependent variables (DVs)

For the following measures, scales
consisted of five
-
option, Likert
-
style questions
(strongly agree to strongly disagree):

Social presence (measured):



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This variable was measured using a scale developed by Tamborini and Skalski
(2005) and adapted to the current study to apply to a reader
-
rep
orter relationship: “I felt
like I got to know the reporter,” “At times, I felt like the reporter was in the room with
me” and “I thought of the reporter while reading the article.” The three questions loaded
on the same factor with an average Cronbach’s a
lpha across the four stories of .53.

Coorientation (measured):

The scale to measure coorientation was based on conceptual definitions in the
literature, particularly Wackman’s (1973): “I felt like this reporter probably is a person
kind of like me,” “I und
erstand the story’s issue in the same the reporter does,” “I see
myself as quite different from this reporter,” “I think this reporter has my interests at
heart,” and “I would find it quite difficult to talk with this reporter on this issue.” All five
ques
tions loaded into the same factor and had average Cronbach’s alpha reliability scores
of .64.

Article (message) credibility, measured:

Article credibility was measured using four questions modified from Gaziano and
McGrath’s (1986) study: “The article was
accurate,” “I believe what I read in the article,”
“I can trust what I read” and “I’m not sure the article told the whole story.” The average
Cronbach’s alpha was .84.

Source (Web site) credibility, measured:

Source credibility was measured using an adapta
tion of the article
-
credibility
scale that Hamman (2006) used. The four questions: “The articles on this Web site are
accurate,” “I don’t think I’d trust what I read on this Web site,” “I can rely on this site”


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and “I probably would believe most articles I

read on this site” had an average
Cronbach’s alpha of .83.

Owner (organizational) credibility, measured:

Web site owner credibility was measured using items that represented dimensions
of community interest, in keeping with Meyer’s (1988) credibility con
ceptualization. The
final scale included the following four questions: “This company probably cares about
readers like me,” “Its reporters seem to be well
-
trained,” “The company seems in touch
with the average person” and “The company probably thinks it’s
important to publish
quality reporting.” The average Cronbach’s alpha was .82.

Expertise, measured:

This variable was measured with a trio of items based on Perloff (2003): “The
reporter sounds like an expert on this topic,” “The reporter sounds like he kn
ows what
he’s talking about” and “The reporter has done his homework on this story.” The average
Cronbach’s alpha was .64.

Control variables

Involvement, measured:

We were concerned that how much respondents felt involved with the story topic
might confoun
d results. We controlled for this with the following four questions: “The
article was involving,” “The article was not interesting,” “This article was relevant to my
life” and “Overall, I liked the article.” The average Cronbach’s alpha was .67.

Results

We

used
Multivariate Analysis of Variance tests
for our main analyses
,
contrasting the dependent variable score for news and blogs with a political affinity scale
.


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For that
scale, we recoded scores on the 7
-
point
-
scale
that asked participant to rate their
s
ocial views from extremely liberal (1) to extremely conservative (7)
this way: 1
-
2 as
“liberal”; 3
-
5 as “neutral”; and 6
-
7 as “conservative.”

Overall, we had mixed results, with support for some hypotheses but often only
parts of them. Most importantly, f
or many of our DVs, we found statistically significant
differences at alpha .05 primarily between news stories and blogs


the within
-
subjects
measures


but not always between conservative blogs and liberal blogs or between
participants’ political affinit
ies


the between
-
subjects measures.

Perhaps the best way to understand this is by looking at the following tables and
figures, which highlight differences on DVs between news stories (mean for both stories
combined), blogs people read that matched their p
olitical opinions (mean for both blogs
combined) and blogs that did not match their opinions (mean for both blogs combined).

Table 1

and
Figure 1

show the impact of the three values of the message variable
on article credibility. As can be seen, blogs that

disagreed with participants’ opinions had
a significant impact on article credibility. Out of 20 points, liberals reported estimated
marginal means of 10.42, compared with conservatives’ 11.65 and neutral participants’
12.19. The same pattern held for pe
rception of organizational credibility on the IVs, as
can be seen in
Table 2

and
Figure 2
. In the latter, out of 20 points, liberals reported
estimated marginal means of 10.52, neutral participants 12.59 and conservatives 11.22. It
makes sense that article

credibility was higher for neutrals in that the “disagreement” for
them is clearly less than for liberals and conservatives.

The impact of disagreeing blogs was not significant for measures of Web site
credibility (
Table 3

and
Figure 3
) or with respect
to perception of expertise (
Table 4

and


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Figure 4
). In other words, the impact of reading blogs that disagreed with their own
position did not generalize to other aspects of the message context.

In the case of coorientation, as
Table
5 and
Figure 5

show, t
here was a significant
difference: If participants read blogs they disagreed with, they reported statistically
significant differences on this measure compared with blogs with which they agreed. Out
of 25 points, for instance, conservative readers of liber
al blogs reported the lowest
estimated marginal means, 12.20, compared with liberals’ 12.27 and neutral participants’
14.49.

Finally, as can be seen in
Table 6

and
Figure 6
, there were no significant
differences of message type on perception of social pre
sence. People sensed the
journalist behind the article as much for blogs they agreed with as with those they
disagreed with.

We also ran a series of linear regressions to determine whether expertise,
coorientation and social presence predicted credibili
ty in each of our conditions,
separated by participants’ mean scores for both types of blogs and taking into account
their political affinity. Here again we found mixed results.

Tables 7

and
8

show expertise and coorientation significantly predicted articl
e and
organizational credibility, respectively, for blogs people agreed with as well as disagreed
with. Social presence did not.

Table
9 shows the same was true in the case of news article credibility. But in the
case of news organization credibility, as
T
able 10

shows, all three DVs


expertise,
coorientation and social presence


predicted news credibility.

Discussion



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19

These findings paint a nuanced though surprising portrait. We found significant
differences on a variety of scores, some in support of our

hypotheses and others not. In
the case of hostile
-
media effects, for instance, we found inconsistent support across
various measures. Perhaps the most important evidence was in perceptions of article and
organizational credibility based on participants’ o
pinions and those of the blogs they
read, as predicted. Similarly, how authoritative (expert) participants viewed blogs, as well
as how much they cooriented on the topic with the journalist, predicted those
participants’ perception of article credibility.
Each of these results offers strong support
for the hostile
-
media effect.

But recall many of the significant differences on DVs primarily were between
blogs and traditional news stories in this study. In other words, participants’ political
affiliation and

whether they read conservative or liberal blogs did not matter on some key
attitude measures. The implications are important, particularly for perceptions of
credibility and expertise, journalism’s holy grails. For all types of credibility and
expertise,
participants reported significant differences between news stories and blogs,
favoring the former. For instance, in the case of blogs they agreed with, liberals reported
organizational credibility means for
news

articles of 13.92 out of
20, neutral partici
pants
14.33
and conservatives 14.09, compared with 12.72, 13.03 and 12.92 respectively for
blogs
.

After years or reluctance, newspapers increasingly are experimenting with
allowing reporters to blog, offering their own take on news events and in their own
voice,
in defiance of traditional core values of impartiality and detachment. Our findings
suggest readers are picking up on the person behind the blogs, as evident in social
-


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20

presence scores. But the findings also suggest newspaper managers’ reluctance mi
ght
have been appropriate: Our study participants, regardless of political affinity or the type
of blog they read, often rated news stories as having more expertise and more of the three
types of credibility than blogs. This echoes findings in Meyer, Marc
hionni & Thorson’s
(2007) study, which showed weak scores for perceived expertise and credibility in blogs.

The hostile
-
media effect suggested a powerful test of how political affinity might
influence a person’s perception of newspaper credibility and exp
ertise in a vastly
-
changed, 21
st
-
century news environment. It appears perceptions of what is credible and
authoritative in news may not be changing so rapidly. This is particularly striking given
the youth of our study’s participants, all born in the digit
al age and likely well
-
familiar, if
not comfortable, with blogs.

This may be a glass half
-
empty argument, though. Some might say moderate
scores for all three measures of credibility and expertise in various blog conditions might
not have even been conce
ivable just a few years ago. That suggests fundamental changes
are underway, perhaps with more to come, in how audiences view news. News managers
would be wise to carefully explore the potential of blogs to bring in younger audiences,
the most coveted for
mainstream media these days, and look for ways to build credibility
with them. One way might be to involve them more intimately in a conversation as both
reader and source (Gillmor, 2006).

Like all empirical studies, this one has limitations. Scores shoul
d be read with
some caution because of modest statistical power in between
-
subjects conditions,
resulting in minimal effect sizes. Also, while we cannot generalize to the newspaper
reading population from any experiment, we can generalize to relationships
between


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21

variables and theorizing about them, as Lang (1996), Shapiro (2002) and others note.
Indeed, future research might address whether more polarizing topics in stories and blogs,
such as abortion, might yield more significant effects among partisans,

as has happened
in many third
-
person and hostile
-
media studies.






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22

Table 1

Repeated measures ANOVA of news and blog article credibility measures against
political affiliation (liberal, neutral, conservative) separated by whether respondents
received blo
gs that matched their political affiliation

Unmatched

Source

Dependent
Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Art Cred News

1

5848.800

.000

Art Cred Blog

1

1099.120

.000

Political Affiliation (Liberal, Neutral,
Conservative)

Art Cred News

2

.456

.636

Art Cred Blo
g

2

2.953

.058

Error

Art Cred News

78



Art Cred Blog

78



Significant Pairwise Differences

Dependent
Variable

(I) Political
Affiliation

(J) Political
Affiliation

μ
Difference

SE

p

Blog

Liberal

Neutral

-
1.767*

.728

.017

Conservative

-
1.232

.
963

.205

Neutral

Liberal

1.767*

.728

.017

Conservative

.535

.824

.518

Conservative

Liberal

1.232

.963

.205

Neutral

-
.535

.824

.518


Matched

Source

Dependent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Art Cred News

1

3415.30**

.000

Art Cred Blog

1

1570.32**

.
000

Political Affiliation

Art Cred News

2

.457

.635

Art Cred Blog

2

.326

.723

Error

Art Cred News

70



Art Cred Blog

70



* p < .05

** p < .01


Figure 1

Estimated marginal means scores for news and blog article credibility scores separated
by politi
cal affiliation and whether the blogs respondents received matched their political


Newspaper Bloggers

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23

23

affiliation
Estimated Marginal Means for Credibility
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Match
No Match
News
Blog


Table 2

Repeated measures ANOVA of news and blog organizational credibility measures against
political affiliation (liberal, neutral, conservative) separated b
y whether respondents
received blogs that matched their political affiliation

Unmatched

Source

Dependent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Org Cred News

1

4044.90**

.000

Org Cred Blog

1

970.55**

.000

Political Affiliation

Org Cred News

2

.283

.755

Org Cred
Blog

2

3.999

.022

Error

Org Cred News

78



Org Cred Blog

78



Significant Pairwise Differences

Dependent
Variable

(I) Political
Affiliation

(J) Political
Affiliation

μ
Difference

SE

p

Organizational
Credibility Blog

Liberal

Neutral

-
2.066**

.77
6

.009

Conservative

-
.709

1.027

.492

Neutral

Liberal

2.066**

.776

.009

Conservative

1.358

.879

.126

Conservative

Liberal

.709

1.027

.492

Neutral

-
1.358

.879

.126

Matched



Newspaper Bloggers

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24

24

Source

Dependent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Organizational Credibility
News

1

2626.01**

.000

Organizational Credibility Blog

1

1415.95**

.000

Political Affiliation

Organizational Credibility News

2

.286

.752

Organizational Credibility Blog

2

.106

.899

Error

Organizational Credibility News

70



Organizational Credibili
ty Blog

70



* p < .05

** p < .01


Figure 2

Estimated marginal means scores for news and blog organizational credibility scores
separated by political affiliation and whether the blogs respondents received matched
their political affiliation
.

Estimated Marginal Means for Organizational Credibility
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Match
No Match
News
Blog

Table 3

Re
peated measures ANOVA of news and blog Web site credibility measures against
political affiliation (liberal, neutral, conservative) separated by whether respondents
received blogs that matched their political affiliation

Unmatched

Source

Dependent Variabl
e

df

F

P

Intercept

Site Credibility News

1

3889.34**

.000

Site Credibility Blog

1

1154.65**

.000

Political Affiliation

Site Credibility News

2

.778

.463

Site Credibility Blog

2

.501

.608



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25

25

Error

Site Credibility News

78



Site Credibility Blog

78



Matched

Source

Dependent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Site Credibility News

1

2804.65**

.000

Site Credibility Blog

1

1510.75**

.000

Political Affiliation

Site Credibility News

2

.369

.692

Site Credibility Blog

2

.195

.823

Error

Site Credibility News

7
0



Site Credibility Blog

70



* p < .05

** p < .01


Figure 3

Estimated marginal means scores for news and blog Web site credibility scores separated
by political affiliation and whether the blogs respondents received matched their political
affiliation
.

Estimated Marginal Means for Site Credibility
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Match
No Match
News
Blog


Table 4

Repeated measures ANOVA of news and blog expertise measures against political
affiliation (liberal, neutral, conservative) separated by whether respondent received
blogs that matched their political affiliation

Unmatched

Source

Dependent Varia
ble

df

F

p



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26

Intercept

Expertise News

1

4064.50**

.000

Expertise Blog

1

1164.81**

.000

Political Affiliation

Expertise News

2

.579

.563

Expertise Blog

2

1.553

.218

Error

Expertise News

78



Expertise Blog

78



Matched

Source

Dependent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Expertise News

1

2246.21**

.000

Expertise Blog

1

1896.42**

.000

Political Affiliation

Expertise News

2

.779

.463

Expertise Blog

2

.617

.543

Error

Expertise News

70



Expertise Blog

70



* p < .05

** p < .01


Figure 4

Estimated margi
nal means scores for news and blog expertise scores separated by
political affiliation and whether the blogs respondents received matched their political
affiliation.

Estimated Marginal Means for Expertise
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Match
No Match
News
Blog


Table 5



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27

27

Repeated measures ANOVA of news and blog coorientation measures against politi
cal
affiliation (liberal, neutral, conservative) separated by whether respondents received
blogs that matched their political affiliation

Unmatched

Source

Dependent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Coorientation News

1

3314.30**

.000

Coorientation Blog

1

985.2
3**

.000

Political Affiliation

Coorientation News

2

.711

.494

Coorientation Blog

2

4.805*

.011

Error

Coorientation News

78



Coorientation Blog

78



Significant pairwise differences

Dependent
Variable

(I) Political
Affiliation

(J) Political
Affiliat
ion

μ
Difference

SE

p

Blog

Liberal

Neutral

-
2.220*

.873

.013

Conservative

.074

1.157

.949

Neutral

Liberal

2.220*

.873

.013

Conservative

2.294*

.989

.023

Conservative

Liberal

-
.074

1.157

.949

Neutral

-
2.294*

.989

.023

Matched

Source

Depe
ndent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Coorientation News

1

1862.14**

.000

Coorientation Blog

1

1271.09**

.000

Political Affiliation

Coorientation News

2

.692

.504

Coorientation Blog

2

1.231

.298

Error

Coorientation News

70



Coorientation Blog

70



* p

< .05

** p < .01


Figure 5

Estimated marginal means scores for news and blog coorientation scores separated by
political affiliation and whether the blogs respondents received matched their political
affiliation.



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28

28

Estimated Marginal Means for Coorientation
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Match
No Match
News
Blog


Table 6

Repeated measures ANOVA of news

and blog social presence measures against political
affiliation (liberal, neutral, conservative) separated by whether respondents received
blogs that matched their political affiliation

Unmatched

Source

Dependent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Social Presence

News

1

1487.04**

.000

Social Presence Blog

1

3393.11**

.000

Political Affiliation

Social Presence News

2

.362

.697

Social Presence Blog

2

1.411

.250

Error

Social Presence News

78



Social Presence Blog

78



Matched

Source

Dependent Variable

df

F

p

Intercept

Social Presence News

1

1023.64**

.000

Social Presence Blog

1

2851.42**

.000

Political Affiliation

Social Presence News

2

.757

.473

Social Presence Blog

2

.550

.580

Error

Social Presence News

70



Social Presence Blog

70



* p < .05

**

p < .01




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29

Figure 6

Estimated marginal means scores for news and blog coorientation scores separated by
political affiliation and whether the blogs respondents received matched their political
affiliation.

Estimated Marginal Means for Social Presence
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Liberal
Neutral
Conservative
Match
No Match
News
Blog


Table 7

Linear regression of blog article credib
ility with blog expertise, coorientation and social
presence as predictors and separated by those who received blogs that matched their
political affiliation.

No Match


B

SE

β

p

Expertise

.591

.158

.433**

.000

Coorientation

.464

.068

.569**

.000

Social

Presence

-
.300

.186

-
.155

.111


R

R
2

Δ R
2

SE


.827

.683

.671

1.55498

Match


B

SE

β

p

Expertise

.497

.152

.332**

.002

Coorientation

.450

.060

.611**

.000

Social Presence

-
.045

.148

-
.029

.761


R

R
2

Δ R
2

SE


.820

.673

.659

1.45631

* p < .05



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30

30

** p
< .01


Table 8

Linear regression of organizational credibility scores with blog expertise, coorientation
and social presence as predictors and separated by those who received blogs that
matched their political affiliation.

No Match


B

SE

β

p

Expertise

.4
65

.200

.316*

.023

Coorientation

.474

.087

.539**

.000

Social Presence

-
.104

.235

-
.050

.658


R

R
2

Δ R
2

SE


.750

.563

.546

1.97217

Match


B

SE

β

p

Expertise Blog

.583

.188

.372**

.003

Coorientation Blog

.394

.074

.511**

.000

Social Presence Blog

-
.113

.183

-
.069

.537


R

R
2

Δ R
2

SE


.737

.543

.523

1.80268

* p < .05

** p < .01


Table 9

Linear regression of news article credibility scores with expertise, coorientation and
social presence as predictors.


B

SE

β

p

Expertise

.431

.097

.352**

.000

Co
orientation

.280

.045

.431**

.000

Social Presence

-
.008

.077

-
.007

.922


R

R
2

Δ R
2

SE


.665

.442

.431

1.28315

* p < .05

** p < .01


Table 10

Linear regression of news organizational credibility scores with expertise, coorientation
and social presence a
s predictors.


B

SE

β

p

Expertise

.541

.101

.394**

.000

Coorientation

.221

.047

.304**

.000

Social Presence

.216

.081

.186**

.008


R

R
2

Δ R
2

SE


.716

.512

.503

1.34490

* p < .05



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31

31

** p < .01



Appendix 1
-

Examples of experimental conditions


News Sto
ry

.










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32

32

Liberal blog













Conservative Blog



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33

33

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