Trusting Others: A Pareto Distribution of Source and Message Credibility Among News Reporters

Aviv Barnoy*, Zvi Reich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


This study uses the case study of journalists to explore the socio-cognitive nature of interpersonal trust in growingly deceptive ecosystems. Journalists are ideal test subjects to explore these issues as professional trust allocators, who receive immediate feedback on right and wrong trust decisions. The study differentiates, for the first time, between source and message credibility evaluations, based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Findings show that journalists can distinguish source and message credibility. However, in practice they rely on source evaluations as an “autopilot” default mode, shifting gears to observations of source and message credibility in epistemically complex cases. The proportion between both is close to Pareto distribution. This extreme division challenges both inductive and mixed inference theories of epistemic trust and suggests revisiting the “typification” doctrine of newswork. Data partially support the hegemony and “epistemic injustice” theory, showing that traditional credibility criteria might trigger the exclusion of nontraditional voices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0093650220911814
Pages (from-to)196-220
Number of pages25
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

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© The Author(s) 2020.

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