An assessment of the techniques and strategies used by South Africa’s three top news sites to establish and maintain credibility
An assessment of the techniques and strategies used by South Africa’s three top news sites to establish and maintain credibility.
With news media credibility at low ebb and under scrutiny from an increasingly critical audience, this research seeks to identify the strategies and techniques used by three prominent South African news sites in the construction of their acknowledged credibility. While academic research into South African online news credibility is lacking, ample such research exists in the US and Britain.
This paper draws on leading studies conducted in those countries and establishes a list of key credibility techniques and strategies used by the best news sites, which serve as a guideline for the South African context and informs this research.
The findings suggest that the existing credibility of the sites examined stems principally from the status of their parent brands. It further indicates that the sites have limited repertoires of techniques and strategies to sustain such notions of credibility. The favoured strategy is speedy updates, possibly because it is the most observable, is easy to implement and offers the audience instant gratification. Other important techniques, which indicate a more genuine commitment to credibility, are often lacking.
Furthermore, the findings point to a gap in online media credibility research in South Africa and suggest that the most respected news sites in this country show little commitment to strategies that would support authentic credibility.