Constructing Democratic Truth-Telling: Activists and Journalists in the US Public

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Johan Gøtzsche-Astrup


Postdoctoral Fellow


Yale University


DKK 1,318,656




Reintegration Fellowships


The project asks how the truth-telling of journalists and activists is constructed and reasoned about in the US public. It addresses contemporary discussions about the role of truth-telling in democracies. In these, some fear that a biased public have dismissed journalistic truth-telling. However, others point to the public recognition of new forms of truth-telling by activists.


Most studies of journalists and activists focus on the actors themselves, asking how they define truth-telling. In shifting to the public, I help activists and journalists understand the public to whom their truth-telling is addressed. More generally, I provide a theoretical and empirical vocabulary for understanding fears of democratic decline and hopes of democratic deepening.


The project consists of two major studies. First, I analyse 50 bestselling activist and journalist memoirs, asking how truth-telling is constructed within these memoirs. Second, I conduct a mixed-methods study of how individual members of the US reason about activists. Here, I employ both a population representative survey as well as in-depth interviews.

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