The credibility of newspapers and, more in general, trust in the media are both, if not actually in decline, at least at a low level in the perception of the public. Among the factors influencing this, a major role is played by the lack of accuracy. More and more frequently the public complains about the “correctness” of journalism. Thus, the credibility of the media and confidence in the media is continuously decreasing. Is there a reason for this common feeling? If the answer is affirmative, how serious is the problem? Moreover, are the negative perceptions of the public considered by journalists or are the readers left behind?
Research on the accuracy of journalistic reporting is fairly well developed in the US where, since the thirties, several empirical studies have been done. On the contrary, in the European context this field has turned out to be poorly investigated. The purpose of this project is to close this gap borrowing the most fluent and complete analytical model ever developed from Maier (2005) and integrating it, on one hand, with a methodology that goes beyond the public’s view of the media (i.e. the sources) and, on the other, with a much more structured and cohesive theoretical model, primarily based on the concept of trustworthiness (Luhmann 1989, Rolke 1999 and Kohring 2004).
The research, articulated as follows, starts from a pilot study already carried out, which gives us quite unexpected results. The American literature speaks of an oscillating rate of errors: between 41% and 61% of the information produced by the press. Our pilot study gives us instead a diverging result: according to the judgment of the sources, only 30% of the articles contain errors. Therefore, while the rate of inaccuracy registered by the American analysis is extremely high, our newspapers seem to be by far more reliable - a matter that certainly needs further inspection - but also, if confirmed, a more in-depth inquiry.