Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Confusing Content, Platforms, and Data: Young Adults and Trust in News Media

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Abstract:  News media trust, and the lack thereof, has been a prominent topic of discussion among journalism scholars in recent years. In this article, we study young adults’ trust in news media from the perspectives of platformisation and datafication. For the empirical study, we collected interview data from 23 Finnish 19–25-year-old young adults and analysed it inductively with applied thematic analysis. Our analysis reveals that trust negotiation is relational and entails not accepted, but forced vulnerability in relation to news media and the platforms on which they operate. Unclarity about the agency of news media on social media platforms causes young adults to experience powerlessness and anxiety in the face of data collection, which in practice translates into indifference toward their data being used by both news media and social media platforms. We show that young adults face a variety of challenges when navigating the online (news) media environment, which as we identify, can result in three trust-diminishing confusions about content, platforms, and data. This may have profound effects on how journalism is viewed as a cornerstone of a democratic society.

Keywords:  data confusion; datafication; news; news trust; platformisation; social media; vulnerability; young adults



© Veera Ehrlén, Karoliina Talvitie-Lamberg, Margareta Salonen, Minna Koivula, Mikko Villi, Turo Uskali. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.