A Bradley University professor found librarianship academic articles were less likely to be critical of misinformation on social media than journalism academic articles.


Calling out fake news on social media: a comparison of literature in librarianship and journalism 
Internet Reference Services Quarterly
By Xiaotian Chen
Jan. 8, 2019

How do librarians handle social media misinformation compared to journalism researchers? Bradley University professor Xiaotian Chen made two lists of articles from Scopus — one on journalism and social media, the other on libraries and social media — to find out. 

Chen compared 475 scholarly articles on their credibility and reception on social media and rated each a score of 1, 2 or 3 based on the article’s tone about social media. He found that although journalism academic articles addressed the information credibility issue on social media, no librarianship article tackled the topic. 

Various journalism articles pointed out issues like information accuracy, objectivity, credibility and trustworthiness — but none of the library articles in Chen’s sample covered these issues.

Chen’s findings suggest that authors of research for librarians are less critical of social media issues than journalism authors. “With fake news being a major issue in the information business since the 2016 US election, librarians should do more in calling out fake news on social media in their publications as well as in information literacy classrooms,” Chen wrote. 

Key Numbers

  • The study used 246 articles on journalism and social media and 229 articles on librarianship and social media to determine the results.
  • Chen combed through the studies to determine the tone and rate each: If the article had a positive view of social media, it got a 3; if the reaction was neutral, it got a 2; and if the authors had questions and issues about social media, it got a score of 1.
  • Of the 246 relevant articles in journalism, Chen assigned 84 articles (34 percent) a generally positive score, but 57 percent had a neutral score. In the librarianship articles, 73 percent had a positive score, and 26 percent were neutral. Here’s a summary of the results:

Despite Chen’s findings on the difference between their research coverage, the two groups often work together to reinvent the way they address the search for quality information in the digital world. Discover six newsroom-library partnerships that can inspire professionals who care about civic engagement here.