From Movement to Institution: The "Global Fact" Summit as a Field-Configuring Event
Keywords:fact-checking, institutional fields, journalism
AbstractThe last decade has seen the rise of a self-described worldwide "movement" of fact-checking groups which specialize in debunking false political claims and other forms of misinformation. This very heterogeneous movement now spans nearly 300 fact-checking outlets in more than eighty countries, led by their own professional organization. This study charts the emergence and development of this transnational institutional sphere with qualitative and quantitative analysis of the annual summit of fact-checking organizations, Global Fact, as a field-configuring event (Lampel & Meyer, 2008). Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork by two authors as well as comprehensive data on the first six Global Fact meetings, we use shifts in the structure and content of the event to explore processes of structuration; we highlight a shift from a field-building ethic valuing inclusiveness and celebrating diversity to one valuing common practices and standards, marked by new governance mechanisms and increasing interest from powerful outside stakeholders. Ultimately, our data show the fact-checking field negotiating a necessary tension between managing internal diversity and consolidating as an increasingly recognized institutional actor in the domain of public communication.
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