What is Media Credibility? Why is it Important?

Audience perceptions regarding the credibility of news media have been studied using several concepts, including “media credibility,” “trust in media,” “media skepticism,” and “media cynicism.” In general, researchers interested in the credibility concept are concerned with audience perceptions of news media, not with the actual credibility of journalists.

Early research on media credibility conducted at Yale in the 1950s manipulated the credibility of communicators and measured the impact of this manipulation on audience persuasion. Only in the 1970s did scholars begin to treat it not as a static trait of the source but as a dynamic perception of the audience.

A major line of research on media credibility has to do with a phenomenon called “hostile media perception,” which takes place when involved people with opposing opinions on an issue perceive the very same, seemingly objective coverage as biased against their respective points of view. Other lines of research have examined the factors underlying audience credibility perceptions and their consequences for various social phenomena. Recently, scholars have revisited early work on medium credibility to investigate audience perceptions of online versus traditional media.

The media in India has grown into an economic giant, with a business turnover that exceeds one percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and matches the economic size of many individual industries in India. It is considered the world’s most dynamic media industry and one of the fastest-growing anywhere. The media’s worth is equivalent to half the value of India’s famously successful computer software exports. Prospering economically and growing influence in the public and political domain.

For the past two decades, the Indian media business has clocked double-digit growth annually, which clearly outpaces India’s GDP growth rate, which has itself risen from about 5 percent to almost 9 percent a year. A recent report by the consultancy firm KPMG and the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry forecasts a growth rate for the media of 13-14 percent a year for the next five years. Amazingly, India’s print media bucked a worldwide trend and has been growing at 10 percent-plus a year.

Last year, it grew by an estimated 26 percent.This is a very different scenario from the state of the media in much of the world. In most developed countries, the media has reached a saturation point. The Western print media is especially badly off, with falling revenues. It is shrinking as major newspapers lose money and circulation and cut staff and coverage.

The media in India has played a disproportionate role in shaping public perceptions of politics, electoral outcomes, and the way power is exercised. As recent disclosures in the Radia tapes show, media personalities increasingly rub shoulders with top-level politicians, industrialists, and corporate lobbyists and collude in making key government appointments and influencing policy decisions.

In sharp contrast to the immense financial power and political clout of the Indian media stands its indifferent—and generally declining—quality, reliability and authenticity, loss of diversity and pluralism, shallowness in reporting and comment on serious issues, and systematic violation of elementary norms of responsible journalism.