Creating Credible User-GeneratedWe understand from the study that: • Readers trust straight news and information a lot more than they value contents with opinion.
and Newsroom-Generated Content
Chris Cobler, Editor,
The Victoria (Texas) Advocate and victoriaadvocate.com
What newsroom-generated and user-generated content do readers trust? How can
a news organization enhance its content credibility with readers?
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Q&A with Chris Cobler
Can you briefly describe your APME Online Journalism Credibility Project?
We initiated a market research project to measure the trustworthiness of many
different content elements on victoriaadvocate.com. The study asked users and non-users how much
they trust articles, multimedia content, user-submitted content and many other specific online elements.
Why did you choose this issue? Our newspaper, the second-oldest daily in Texas, has a 164-
year-old tradition of being the most trusted source for local news, information and advertising in our
region. As we build our brand on VictoriaAdvocate.com, we want to know what we can do to build
that same relationship with our digital audience.
How did you approach the issue?
Our main effort was to conduct the market study, which we created in collaboration with Macarena
Hernandez, director of Latino Initiatives at the University of Houston-Victoria, and Ken Fleming,
director of the Center for Advanced Social Research at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.
Two journalism students from UHV and researchers at the Reynolds Institute conducted the study.
With 400 completed surveys, our study had an accuracy of +/- 5 percentage points.
What did you and your news organization learn?
This is true for print and online content, and for newsroom-generated as user-generated content.• They trust news sites (including ours) much more than they trust social media sites.• They recognize and judge trustworthiness of different types of content, including news stories,
blogs, editorials, webcasts, ads.• They trust our news site for local news, particularly.• They want user-generated content and value it for what it does well, but the also recognize and
judge it as opinion.• Readers have mixed feelings about story comments, the downside being mainly the negative
effect of trolls.• Readers believe it's beneficial to a news organization to involve readers.