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Vol. 3 No. 2 (2021)

Does Numeracy in Digital Journalism Increase Story Believability? : Experiments Comparing Audience Perceptions from the US, Zambia, Tanzania

February 11, 2021


This exploratory study contributes to the literature on numeracy in digital journalism studies by theoretically incorporating the audience/news consumers. While most studies have focused on journalists’ perception and role in the use of numeracy, this study examines how audience perceive stories with numerical values. Through an experimental design, and by comparing the United States, Zambia, and Tanzania, the study was able to demonstrate that news stories with numerical values diminished audience/readers’ affective consumption. In other words, news stories with numerical values were negatively associated with audience appeal. However, individuals with a lower understanding of probabilistic and numerical concepts seemed to trust news stories with numbers more than those with a higher level of numeracy. This was especially true in Zambia and Tanzania where most participants recorded lower numeracy levels. The overall sample in all the three countries seemed to favor news stories with less or no numeracy.


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