Fake News as a Critical Incident in Journalism

Edson C. Tandoc, Joy Jenkins, Stephanie Craft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines how American newspapers made sense of the issue of fake news. By analysing newspaper editorials and considering the problem of fake news as a critical incident confronting journalism, this study found that news organizations in the US recognize fake news as a social problem while acknowledging the challenge in defining it. They generally considered fake news as a social media phenomenon thriving on political polarization driven by mostly ideological, but sometimes also financial, motivations. Therefore, they assigned blame for the rise of fake news to the current political environment, to technological platforms Google and Facebook, and to audiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-689
Number of pages17
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019


  • Boundary work
  • critical incident
  • editorials
  • fake news
  • journalism
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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