Anyone Can Publish, But Whom Will We Trust?

By: Holmgaard Christensen  

In this paper I claim that we live in a poly-factual society. A poly-factual society is characterized by the production and sharing of factual information in many novel ways other than through traditional news work and editorial gatekeeping. In a poly-factual society, information production and distribution is center-less and not hierarchically organized. News can come from other actors than news companies and how we produce and receive news in society is being re-institutionalized. Corporations, tech-companies, public institutions, organisations, and the public at large all struggle to be trustworthy gatekeepers in a digital media environment. In this struggle to be an authority that can present the truest factual knowledge, we see tribal bickering both between politicians and between news media. We also see a tendency of polarization where people support like-minded people in a fight to define "the facts." Despite this situation, we are neither left with pure lies nor are we out of facts in society, but out of too much factual diverging information have sprung distrust and skepticism in mediated information. Evidently this has lead to a disbelief in political communication but in particular a disbelief in news media as an authoritative voice of truth. Ultimately the power of the news media to oversee political debate and act as society’s watchdog is fading. Hence, the paper clarifies why it is important to abstain from a banal use of "post-truth," "post-factual," and "fake news" and instead embrace notions of poly-factuality and news as factional strategies that can produced from various actors in society.

"Poly-factual Society", " Fake News", " Trust"
2018 Special Focus: Alt-Media - The Shifting Tide of Political Communication
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Lars Holmgaard Christensen

Affiliate Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen SV, Denmark

Lars is an affiliate associate professor in media studies, strategic communication and journalism at Aalborg University, Copenhagen. Besides academic work Lars is head of analysis at Oxymoron Communication based in Copenhagen. Lars was formerly head of Research for New Media at the Danish School of Media and Journalism from 2008-2013 Lars holds a PhD from 2006 in Digital Media, Communication & Culture from the University of Aalborg. The primary focus of his research is to explore the ways digital and social media transform the overall media culture and affect strategic communication and journalism practice Lars also works with media professionals and his preferred research methods are action based research and media ethnographic approaches