News Media and Ontological Security: Media Theory Meets Data

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Rok publikování 2022
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Popis The presentation reports an empirical evaluation of the relationship between ontological security and news media. Ontological security is a deep emotional state rooted in confidence that one's self-identity and social and material surroundings are constant and reliable. It is thus affected by extraordinary situations, such as crises. Scholars have addressed ontological security in connection to media, suggesting in theory that media, particularly news media, contribute to maintaining ontological security by providing a sense of understandability, predictability, and continuity. As such, news media would serve as a stabilizing force in crises or breakdowns. Nevertheless, the theoretical assumption about the relationship between ontological security and news media, up to our knowledge, has not been satisfyingly studied nor supported with evidence. Therefore, we built a measure for ontological security and quantitatively examined the role of news media in maintaining ontological security. Using a representative survey data of Czech adults collected between December 2019 and February 2020 (N=3,251), we tested how selected news media practices (frequency and media used for news consumption) and attitudes towards news media (perceived importance of news consumption, trust in journalists and media, and normative and cohesive trust in news media) predict ontological security. The results showed that higher levels of ontological security were predicted by trust in journalists and normative trust in news media (i.e., based on the expectation that media should follow professional standards and ethos of objectivity, impartiality, and independence), and cohesive trust in news media (i.e., based on the expectation that media should represent and defend interests, values, and worldviews of the audience) predicted lower levels of ontological security. However, the model as a whole did not fit the observed levels of ontological security well, meaning that the selected news media practices and attitudes predicted ontological security only negligibly. Thus, news media might be less influential in maintaining ontological security than the theory implies.
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