What Drives Perceptions of Foreign News Coverage Credibility? A Cross-National Experiment Including Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine
Research on news credibility has overwhelmingly focused on individual and message-level factors explaining why people view some news items as more credible than others. We argue that environmental variables such as the message content’s consistency with dominant mainstream narrative can have a powerful explanatory capacity as well. We expect this effect to be particularly pronounced in the domain of international news. Drawing on a sample of 8,568 social media users across three post-Soviet countries, we test this expectation experimentally. Our analyses suggest that consistency with dominant narrative increases the credibility of foreign affairs coverage. We also demonstrate the moderating role of international conflict, government support, and news language in some national contexts but not others. Finally, we report how the effects of these factors on credibility vary according to whether the news items are real or fabricated and discuss the societal implications of our findings.