Trust in the media

YouGov has today published the results of a ‘Trust in the media’ survey and it is bad news for newspapers. The survey found that ‘this summer’s phone-hacking scandal has resulted in media mistrust among members the public’.  Here are some of the results:

  • 64% of UK adults saw TV as the most trusted media outlet
  • 58% said the same about radio
  • 38% trusted newspapers, while 25% thought the same about magazines

Interestingly – given the ongoing Leveson Inquiry – nearly 1 in 5 (17%) UK adults think that they will be less likely to consult newspapers for their current affairs content in 2012. This is also perhaps a result of the ongoing phone hacking investigation; with 58% of respondents saying that the recent scandal has reduced their level of trust in the newspaper industry, while over half (51%) said it had reduced their trust in the UK media as a whole. Perhaps the most damning finding was that:

  • Three in four people (74%) in the UK think media outlets sometimes, or frequently, lie to their audiences
  • Over half – 55% – agree that the content in the UK media has been dumbed down in recent years

If 3 in 4 people really believe that media outlets ‘sometimes, or frequently, lie to their audiences’ then why do newspaper sales continue to hold out fairly well? Perhaps as I suggested earlier: people really are addicted to this kind of news output and newspapers lie because it brings in sales. Remember, newspapers want to earn sales, earning trust is irrelevant if not doing so does not impact on sales.

However, you can safely ignore what I think because ‘blogs are trusted by under one in ten people (9%)’.

3 thoughts on “Trust in the media”

  1. You ask why, if 74% of people think papers lie, sales hold steady.

    There are likely a bunch of reasons. I think some of them are:

    “All media outlets tell lies – except the one I choose”, fueled by the fact that, for example, the Mail frequently slags off the Guardian (and vice versa). I’d imagine other papers tell tales on their rivals too.

    People think that their particular choice of paper tells lies, but only in the things they don’t care about. Sort of “yeah so they make things up about celebrities, but when it comes to immigration they always tell the truth”.

    Mostly I think it’s simply that bad news plays on emotions, and emotions are stronger than logic. The mind processes that mean you’re the only person that can’t see why your girlfriend is bad for you, are the same processes that won’t let you see why a particular news story is complete rubbish, no matter how obvious it is.
    This is why someone will spend an hour reading something then smacking it all over Facebook to release their anger, but won’t take 3 minutes to Google and fact check the sources.

  2. It’s odd that blogs are mostly considered untrustworthy considering all of the *direct* links to sources they include. Something actual newspapers can never do and online newspapers rarely do.

  3. One of the interesting things about this data, I think, is that they merge trust in the papers – when we know that the rate of trust in the different types of newspaper vary greatly.

    We did some research a while back (during the hacking scandal) and got a rate of trust in tabloid journalists of 5%, compared to over 40% for broadsheet journalists (see http://nottspolitics.org/2011/09/16/a-scandal-of-two-halves/ ).

    So, don’t take it personally that blogs are trusted by about 10% of people – that’s probably twice as many as trust tabloid journalists.

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