Content Moderation and Fact-Checking : A Study of Journalists’ Information Practices in the Contemporary News Media Landscape

Sammanfattning: This thesis in information studies is about journalists’ and news media professionals’ engagement in two specific information practices that have become integrated into contemporary journalism. Two of the four articles included in this thesis focus on content moderation and two on fact-checking. All four articles were written within the framework of information studies.The two practices—content moderation of online news media comments sections and fact-checking—have emerged within the evolving information landscape of digital journalism. The aim of this thesis is to explore how these practices are constructed through journalists’ and news media professionals’ conceptualization of misbehaving users online and the spreading of misinformation.The thesis focuses on content moderation and fact-checking as responses to how journalists experience the perceived problems of online misconduct and misinformation. By combining the five concepts information landscape, information practice, discourse, information infrastructure, and genre, this thesis advances our understanding of the processes through which new information practices and genres emerge and take shape within the specific news media environment of the contemporary information age.This research found that content moderation and contemporary fact-checking are thoroughly intertwined with journalists’ notions of what their professional mission is. While the same motives were cited in legitimizing completely opposing actions, the same actions were often justified by citing very different principles. These conflicting ideals and motives were found to underpin the practices regardless of the national affiliation of the studied actors. There were no indications that the problems of misbehaving users and the spreading of misinformation were understood or discussed differently in the various geographical locations where the studied practices of content moderation and fact-checking occur.This thesis ascertained that the practitioners draw on the moral values, traditions, and ideas of what it means to be a journalist when legitimizing content moderation and fact-checking. Furthermore, it found an ongoing struggle between the conflicting ideals and motives that underpin these practices.