New research “Media Market Risk Ratings: Latvia” from the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) and the Centre for East European Policy Studies (CEEPS) shows that two-thirds of the news sites in Latvian media market analysis present high risks of disinformation.
These findings are based on analysis of 23 media sites, including some of the country’s most used sites in the Latvian and Russian languages (see Figure 1).
Some of GDI’s key findings for the Latvian media market sample include:
- Most Latvian media sites have high levels of disinformation risk. The sample is rated as: minimum (4%), low (14%), medium (17%), high (48%), and maximum (17%).
- A common problem is that 96% of the sites are not using bylines for publications frequently. Without a byline or citation, the source of the information is concealed.
- Most of the Latvian sites in the study score poorly on operational policies. For example, only one site has complete information on its sources of funding.
- The four maximum risk sites often publish sensational content not covered by other outlets in Latvian and Russian, creating information silos for online users.
- Across all sites, surveyed users show low perceptions of brand trust, reflecting their overall crisis of confidence in the country’s media.
These findings come from an independent and neutral assessment of disinformation risk in three areas: the reliability of the site’s content, the site’s operational checks and balances, and how informed online readers perceive the overall context of the sites. The assessment was conducted between March and June 2020. Only the top performing site is named in the report.
About the study
The study is based on a disinformation risk scoring methodology, which the GDI has developed. The risk rating is structured as a neutral, independent and transparent assessment of a news domain’s disinformation risk at the site level. The study does not assess the truthfulness or accuracy of a site—nor does the rating attempt to assess which stories are true or false. The full methodology is available online.
For this study, we looked at a range of some of the most frequently used media sites in Latvia. We defined reach and relevance based on a site’s Alexa rankings and Facebook and Twitter followers. We also consulted with local experts to identify domains with lower reach but high relevance among decision-makers and included those sites.
The Global Disinformation Index is a UK-based not-for-profit that operates on the three principles of neutrality, independence and transparency. Our vision is a world in which we can trust what we see in the media. Our mission is to disrupt, defund and downrank disinformation sites. We provide disinformation risk ratings of the world’s media sites. For more information, visit www.disinformationindex.org.
The research is available here.
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 To collect the data, the GDI did a review of anonymised articles. The articles were presented to the researchers as text files, with all identifying characteristics (i.e. name of site and/or URL), images and videos removed. GDI checked the sites for the operational information outlined in the Journalism Trust Initiative, and commissioned an independent survey of 1,000 online readers (done by SKDS).