Disagreements as a form of knowledge: How journalists address day-to-day conflicts between sources

Zvi Reich, Aviv Barnoy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Disagreements over facts, in which news sources are leading journalists in opposite directions, are an ultimate test of journalists’ knowledge, forcing them to develop their own understanding of the actual state of affairs. This study focuses on how reporters think, act, and establish knowledge during the coverage of day-to-day disagreements – contrary to former studies, which focused on large-scale scientific and political controversies based on content analysis that narrowed their exposure to the epistemic realities of disagreements. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative reconstruction interviews we show that rather than eliciting an ‘epistemic paralysis’, as widely expected in the literature, disagreements attract significantly greater knowledge-acquisition energy. Findings support the problem-centered approach of epistemology and pragmatics that highlight the complexities of disagreements, rather than the adjudication-centered approach of journalism studies, which push for more journalistic ‘bottom lines’. Maximizing adjudication seems too ambitious and unrealistic for the time frame of daily reporting and the mixed epistemic standards seen in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-900
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

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© The Author(s) 2019.

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