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Incomplete knowledge, rumour and truth seeking: when conspiracy theories become news


Konkes, C and Lester, L, Incomplete knowledge, rumour and truth seeking: when conspiracy theories become news, Journalism Studies, 18, (7) pp. 826-844. ISSN 1461-670X (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Taylor & Francis

DOI: doi:10.1080/1461670X.2015.1089182


Conspiracy theories can no longer be consigned to the fringes of media; they are a feature of news and journalism and can be defined as attempts to find causal explanations for events in covert plots rather than more prosaic processes. Often a pejorative label, journalists know that conspiracies can be sites for significant news-making. This empirical study explores the conditions and practices that lead to conspiracy theories entering news narratives. It focuses on the intense news coverage of a child sexual crime in Hobart, Tasmania that became a conspiracy theory involving the highest levels of government and the judiciary. It examines how Hobartís Mercury newspaper sourced its stories and finds that the conspiracy theory gained traction when official statements were deemed unsatisfactory and journalists sought other perspectives which enabled critics, including the newspaper, to attack the Tasmanian Government.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:child sexual crimes; conspiracy theories; journalism practice; politics; public
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Communication and media studies
Research Field:Media studies
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:The media
UTAS Author:Konkes, C (Dr Claire Konkes)
UTAS Author:Lester, L (Professor Libby Lester)
ID Code:103365
Year Published:2017 (online first 2015)
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2015-10-07
Last Modified:2018-02-17

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