This year we have also explored the levels of trust in the media generally and compared this with trust in the media that people use. Overall we find significant differences in general trust with over two-thirds (68%) agreeing that they trusted the media in Finland, compared with only one-third in the United States (32%), Spain (34%), and Italy (35%).
Levels of trust in the news media – all countries
Trust in the news media rises with age, education, and income. Casual Users are much less likely to trust the news than News Lovers or Daily Briefers.
Trust rises with age
Base: All = 23557.
In our online focus groups – held in the UK and US – we uncovered some of the reasons for the lack of faith in the news media. Much centred on a perceived loss of accuracy and reliability:
My rule is chuck 50% of the news out … at the beginning of January … the ANSA in Rome spread rumours that Fidel Castro had died and I knew it was not true. (Daniela, US)
Half the time the ‘news’ turns out to be fake. (Trent, US)
I used to read a lot of CNN, particularly for US political news. But recently they have garnered a reputation as ‘untrustworthy’ and often hasty in their reporting. (Ben, UK)
Apart from accuracy there were also concerns around agendas and bias – political or commercial.
There are often times stories that are considered news but turn out to be adverts or come from a source that is obviously trying to sell something other than the news. (Jenn, US)
Some sources have an obvious slant in one direction or the other, but the overall effect is to make me not trust anything they say. (Helena, UK)
The greater trust in news you use in the United States may be explained by the highly partisan nature of TV channels like Fox News and MSNBC (see comparison with UK below). Those who watch these US channels may feel more positively about sources that express their own political viewpoint while disapproving of other channels that take an alternative position.
Partisan viewing of TV news channels – United States
Partisan viewing of TV news channels – United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom focus group the impartiality and fairness both of broadcasters and reputable online newspaper sites came through strongly as a major driver of trust.
(I trust) names (brands) in news that are respected, I guess, and have a reputation for objectivity. (Helena, UK)
[Reputation comes from] track record, both professional and those I’ve read in the past and deemed reputable. (Ben, UK)