The paradox of knowing more and less. Audience metrics and the erosion of epistemic standards on the internet
- insert_drive_file Peer-Reviewed Publications
- fingerprint 10.5771/2192-4007-2022-4-566
- event 2022
- insert_drive_file Studies in Communication and Media
- translate English
Journalism is crucial to modern democracies in that it provides valid knowledge about current events in the form of news. Through shared epistemic standards and professionalized norms of objectivity, journalism helps to generate societal knowledge and to make informed decisions. Yet, this surveillance function is also driven by knowledge about audiences. Knowledge about audiences informs both journalism's and mutual recipients' expectations toward anticipated audiences. It allows to gauge shared epistemic standards and thus to reduce risks of criticism when participating in public discourse. Online, changes in possibilities and necessities to monitor audiences, however, have paved the way to engage in a mode of addressing more tailored standards of anticipated audiences. Such epistemic tribalism contrasts widely shared epistemic standards of professional journalism and has yielded a paradox in which an increase in knowledge about audiences possibly leads to less common knowledge about current events because epistemic standards are no longer shared across the public. Based on this diagnose, we offer two potential pathways for the future of epistemic standards on the internet. A negative one where polarization will benefit from an intensified identification with epistemic tribes and a positive one where discursive spaces will allow for an institutionalized rebalancing of epistemic standards between journalism and audiences.
Haim, M. & Neuberger, C. (2022). The paradox of knowing more and less. Audience metrics and the erosion of epistemic standards on the internet. Studies in Communication and Media, 11(4), 566-589. https://dx.doi.org/10.5771/2192-4007-2022-4-566 (content_copy)