New study: Wikipedia’s use for news reports

Journalism Practice has published one of my studies that analyzes how national newspapers in the United States increasingly use Wikipedia as a source in their articles. The study “How US national newspapers frame and use the online encyclopedia in their coverage” found that despite the perceived skepticism among journalists the online encyclopedia is framed mainly positively and neutral in newspaper coverage and has been increasingly referenced in the print editions over the course of eight years.

The study, which I co-authored with my VCU colleague Jeff South, was published in the April edition of Journalism Practice, which is available online. The following is the abstract of the study:

Within only a few years, the collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia has become one of the most popular websites in the world. At the same time, Wikipedia has become the subject of much controversy because of inaccuracies and hoaxes found in some of its entries. Journalists, therefore, have remained skeptical about the reliability and accuracy of Wikipedia’s information, despite the fact that research has consistently shown an overall high level of accuracy compared to traditional encyclopedia. This study analyzed the framing of Wikipedia and its use as a news source by five US national newspapers over an eight-year period. A content analysis of 1486 Wikipedia references in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Christian Science Monitor found that Wikipedia is framed predominantly neutral and positive, and that it is increasingly used as a news source. By framing Wikipedia as credible and accurate, the newspapers help legitimize the use of the online encyclopedia. By allowing Wikipedia to influence their news agendas as a source, the newspapers confirm the growing reliability of Wikipedia.

If you are interested in receiving the complete study, please e-mail me. You can also watch a video summary of the entire issue of Journalism Practice by Editor Bob Franklin below and read the press release by the VCU News Center.


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