And That’s a Fact: A Rhetorical Perspective on the Role of Fact-Checkers

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Fact-checking initiatives have rapidly expanded worldwide with the overall aim of assessing the veracity of factual claims made in public. In this paper, we critique how the objectivity norm informs the current role perception of fact-checkers and suggest ways to reinterpret this perception through rhetorical argumentation theory. First, we point to research literature on fact-checking as a site in which role perceptions of fact-checkers and epistemological ideals are represented, (re)created and contested, marking out an objectivist role perception. Second, we highlight recent contributions from scholars who, like us, have noticed tensions between the objectivist role perception and role performances of fact-checkers and constructively recommended different ways of working around these tensions. In dialogue with these suggestions, we propose that rhetorical argumentation theory can be considered a supplementary resource to further advance epistemological discussions on the role perception of fact-checkers. In addition, the vocabulary from rhetorical argumentation theory holds potential for methodological operationalisation to guide the future role performances of fact-checkers. Finally, to develop our suggestion further, we propose a new research agenda embracing action-oriented research as an integrated way of developing fact-checkers’ role and practise together with practitioners.
TidsskriftJournalism Practice
Sider (fra-til)1-19
Antal sider19
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2024


  • Det Humanistiske Fakultet - Fact-checking, Epistemic practice, Epistemological beliefs, Role performance, Role perception, Rhetorical argumentation theory, Factual claims

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