Identification, Transparency, Interactivity: Towards a New Paradigm for Credibility for Single-Voice Blogs

Identification, Transparency, Interactivity: Towards a New Paradigm for Credibility for Single-Voice Blogs

Brian Carroll (Berry College, USA) and R. Randolph Richardson (Berry College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijicst.2011010102
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This article explores traditional conceptualizations of credibility relying on quantitative and qualitative analyses of data collected by the Institute for the Future of the Book, which conducted an online survey of readers of Pharyngula and Informed Comment, two popular, widely read, single-author blogs. The results suggest that a new pattern for online information credibility is emerging for blogs that supplements credibility’s traditionally understood dimensions of expertise, accuracy, and absence of bias with new, medium-specific or medium-enabled dimensions, including interactivity, transparency and, perhaps most significantly, identification. The responses indicate that mainstream news media may want to adopt more of the principles and techniques of blogging and readers of the two blogs appreciate the conversation each author facilitates. This preference for real human voices, especially when combined with the explosion of interest in and use of online social networks like Facebook and Twitter, indicates the need for a “re-voicing” of journalism.
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Literature Review

Credibility as “a chief element of the information quality” (Rieh & Danielson, 2007, p. 344) has been widely researched in many disciplines, and for a long time. Pioneering research was conducted in the 1930s and 1940s, when warring nations became keenly interested in learning how to persuade through the means of propaganda and how to harness the newfound power of radio. This work continued after the war, notably with the work of psychologists Hovland, Janis and Kelley in the 1950s on mainly source credibility as opposed to message or media credibility. Building on the Yale team’s findings, McCroskey in the 1960s (McCroskey, 1966, 1969) led a movement away from uni-dimensional measures and toward a factor analysis approach, beginning a tradition that continues in mass communication research today.3

As mentioned, one reason for such sustained interest by news media in credibility research is the long-term decline in newspaper readership, which has been connected to a diminishing of credibility over time. Meyer (1988) pointed out in the 1980s that even after a great deal of research, there was no widely agreed-upon definition or operationalization of the term or concept of credibility. Meyer surveyed credibility research in mass communication and developed an index for the two dimensions of the concept he identified in the literature: believability and community affiliation (p. 567).

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