InfosFiables : Information Practices and Trust in Information Authorities among Quebecers

Contemporary social science research emphasizes a persistent crisis of trust in traditional institutions responsible for disseminating information. This crisis disproportionately impacts media outlets but also encompasses the narratives they relay from political, economic, and scientific sectors. While existing scholarship provides an overview of the ongoing transformations in the information ecosystem and content distribution mechanisms, particularly in the digital social media landscape, it falls short in addressing several critical areas. These areas include the methods by which the public engages with information and the varying levels of trust they invest in informational authorities.

In the context of a collaborative endeavour, InfoFiables aims to explore the dynamics of trust through a communication perspective, examining the circulation, public discussion, and either acceptance or rejection of information. The study is anchored in Quebec’s sociocultural context, where trust in media is notably higher than in other settings like the United States and Europe and pursues two complementary objectives: 1) Create an in-depth profile of Francophone information consumers through extensive surveys examining their engagement with information and trust levels in authoritative sources. 2) Present our research partners with a rigorously validated toolkit of concrete methods to foster trust with their audiences and promote quality online discussions centred on their content.

This collaborative venture assembles pivotal stakeholders from both media and scientific communication sectors: l’Association des Communicateurs Scientifiques, the Bell Globemedia Chair in Science Journalism, la Fédération Professionnelle des Journalistes du Québec, and Radio-Canada as principal partner building upon a pre-existing partnership under the SSHRC Partner Engagement 2019-2020 grant. Committed to refining the survey’s thematic focus among Quebec audiences, our partners leverage their domain-specific expertise. They also contribute to the formulation and empirical evaluation of the proposed methodologies, confirming their suitability for implementation in genuine professional milieus.

This partnership-based research will provide an original contribution by linking the communicative qualities of content, the platforms where such content is discussed, and the characteristics of the Francophone Quebecois audience. It will offer new insights into how audiences interpret their information practices and the various factors influencing their experiences, intending to identify mechanisms for establishing trust in information and informational authorities. The objective is to pinpoint strategies for establishing trust in information and its authoritative sources. The findings will pave the way for advancements in content creation, site navigation strategies, media-audience relations, and the promotion of quality online dialogues surrounding these topics. These established “best practices” will help distinguish high-quality informational content from its competitors, enhancing the value attributed to information within democratic societies.

The project is spearheaded by Alexandre Coutant, professor in the Department of Social and Public Communication at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and is funded through an SSHRC Partnership Development Grant 2022-2025. Serving as co-researcher is Florence Millerand. The interdisciplinary team comprises additional co-researchers from both UQAM and Université Laval, including Daniel Caja Rubio, François Demers, and Guillaume Latzko-Toth from Université Laval, along with Jean-Hugues Roy, Michelle Stewart, and Stéphane Vial from UQAM. Collaborative roles are filled by Marie Peltier of the Institut supérieur pédagogique Galilée, Nicolas Pélissier from Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, and Patrick White from UQAM. Research assistants Marie-Danielle Tremblay and Louvinia Sainte-Rose-Fanchine, both affiliated with UQAM, also contribute to the project.

This content has been updated on 19 December 2023 at 14 h 44 min.