The Instagram News Logic : The Encoding and Decoding of News Credibility on Instagram in the COVID-19 Infodemic in Indonesia

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Medier och kommunikation

Abstract: In the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend of Instagram as a news source emerged in the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020 (Reuters, 2020). Instagram’s visual factor has made accessing news more feasible and convenient through a curated feed. Consequently, news producers are migrating to social media platforms, including Instagram to serve news consumption needs. However, journalism on social media has been criticized for its lack of journalistic legitimacy where media trust is challenged by the sensationalism of news to drive engagement metrics. Moreover, the COVID-19 infodemic (WHO, 2020) has escalated the concern of news credibility due to a circulation of misinformation regarding the pandemic and overwhelming citizens. Hence, the objective of this study is to analyze how a news outlet on Instagram maintains journalistic legitimacy and how Instagram users navigate news through information abundance in finding credible and trustworthy news.  The analysis of this study takes into account an Indonesian news outlet on Instagram called Narasi Newsroom, by interviewing a representative from the news producer, a content analysis of their news content, and interviewing Indonesian Instagram users. The empirical findings illustrate how Narasi Newsroom can revive journalistic legitimacy through an innovative approach without diminishing journalism quality on Instagram. With its principle of educating the audience to understand the news beyond factual statements, Narasi Newsroom’s strategy of riding the wave to serve audience needs upholds journalism values through critical thinking and credible sources. By conducting the study through updating the encoding/decoding model (Hall, 1973; 2009), it was found that the social media logic (Dijck & Poell, 2013) can balance journalism practice on Instagram as well as practices critical thinking for news consumers in finding trustworthy news. In light of the post-truth era, media trust and news credibility may be challenged, however, they are not lost when journalism on social media takes accountability to serve news consumers’ needs. Consequently, it takes both the news producers and consumers to take a critical stance to preserve trust in the news.  

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