Are Numbers Not Trusted in a “Post-Truth” Era? An Experiment on the Impact of Data on News Credibility

Y. Roselyn Du*, Lingzi Zhu, Benjamin K. L. Cheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The term “post-truth” was declared by Oxford Dictionaries to be its 2016 “International Word of the Year,” signifying the advent of a so-called post-truth era with rising misinformation and declining trust in media. Meanwhile, the “age of data” has seen a proliferation of big data alongside an increase in data-driven journalism, which is one critical way to make professional journalists distinctive with the production of fact-based, authoritative news. Using devised variations of one news report as stimuli, this experiment involves five test groups to determine whether data and data visualizations impact the perceived credibility of news. Results show that only when accompanied by visualizations does the use of data have a positive effect. Findings suggest the necessity and significant role of data visualizations in news production. The study also reveals that increased use of data components in the news does not always contribute to its audience’s perception of news credibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-195
Number of pages17
JournalElectronic News
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Information Systems
  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • data journalism
  • data visualization
  • experiment
  • news credibility
  • post-truth


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