Volume 20, Issue 5
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862



In recent years, the term ‘fake news’ has gained considerable traction in scholarly and public discourse. While fake news is increasingly attributed to declining audience trust, we know little about how publics are making sense of the concept. To address this, I discuss findings arising from interviews with 24 Western Australian media consumers who offered their perspectives on Australian news coverage of asylum seekers. Combining Critical Discourse methods with Rhetorical Analysis, findings highlight how participants evaluated misinformation and disinformation about asylum seekers and in particular, how some adopted a discourse of ‘fake news’ to delegitimise perspectives that oppose their own stance. Discussed alongside Egelhofer and Lecheler’s (2019) theoretical framework of the fake news ‘label’, I argue that by understanding how audiences discussed fake news before the concept rose to prominence in 2016, scholars can meaningfully examine discursive patterns within social constructions of fake news across numerous contemporary and historical contexts.

Available under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): asylum seekers; audiences; Australia; critical discourse analysis; fake news; media
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