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30 April 2020

Newspapers Remain Highly Trusted During Coronavirus Crisis

News organisations are over four times as trusted for news and information on the coronavirus than social media, according to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism latest study.  

In a factsheet released earlier this week, RISJ examined people’s attitudes towards how news organisations, Government and other institutions were responding to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, based on a survey fielded from 10 April to 14 April.

Fifty seven per cent found trustworthy news and information on coronavirus from news organisations, compared with individual politicians (38 per cent), search engines (31 per cent), social media (13 per cent), video sites (12 per cent) and messaging apps (nine per cent).

Seventy-three per cent agreed that the news media had explained what people can do in response to pandemic and 65 per cent agreed that the news media has helped me understand the pandemic.

A new opinion poll from IpsosMORI has found that, on balance, people think journalists are successfully holding Government to account at the on Covid-19 Government daily briefings.

Forty three per cent of people think journalists are doing a good job versus 28 per cent who do not. This a net score of +15 and journalists rank considerably higher than Members of Parliament with only 28 per cent believing they are doing a good job holding the Government to account.

Furthermore, YouGov studies have shown that local media, in print and online, is the most trusted source for local news and information. Local media publishers are based in the communities they serve and have deep links and strong relationships with their readers and local businesses.

The latest Edelman Trust Barometer has shown that trust worldwide across all sectors has declined, as citizens have become more sceptical of government, businesses and institutions. Britain is shown as having its lowest ever position in a global table of trust among the mass populations of 28 countries.

A further report by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism 'Navigating the ‘Infodemic’: How People in Six Countries Access and Rate News and Information about Coronavirus' found that news organisations were found to be used by more people as a source of news or information about coronavirus (59 per cent) than the Government (56 per cent), national health organisations (48 per cent) and scientists, doctors and health experts (35 per cent).

News media organisations often compare their trust ratings with social media, messaging apps and video sites because, according to Ofcom’s News Consumption Report, half of adults in the UK now use social media to keep up with the latest news, this is particularly true with young people aged 16-24.

The Ofcom report found that 82 per cent believe newspapers provide accurate news stories compared with 45 per cent finding social media carrying accurate stories. And 79 per cent of respondents said newspapers produce trustworthy news stories versus 39 per cent for social media. 

Sixty-eight per cent believe newspapers produce high quality content versus 42 per cent for social media, and provision of in depth analysis not available elsewhere 62 per cent (newspapers) versus 40 (social media).

In a multiplatform world, news media publishers use social media to amplify their journalism, the UK news brand sector reaches 49 million people a month, 47 million a week and 34 million people a day, with an extra 3.2 million people a day reading quality, trusted news compared to a year ago.

Written evidence in the DCMS’ sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation highlights many examples from organisations such as Clean Up The Internet and The Pirbright Institute battling online social media misinformation.

The Pirbright Institute was implicated in conspiracy theories around it already having a COVID-19 vaccine and is in the process of analysing over 16 million tweets from over 1.7 million UK users over the past seven weeks, regarding coronavirus and the 5G conspiracy theory.

The organisation notes that after “repeatedly reported messages, posts, comments, tweets, videos across all channels, in the majority of cases no action has been taken and Facebook has assessed these as not offensive or breaking Facebook rules.”

It continues: “Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google are impossible to get hold of or talk to which has left a small research Institute trying to combat this ‘Fake News’ with potential to misinform the public and damage reputation with malicious and threatening content.”