The mainstream news media has retained its reputation despite the proliferation of fake news, but the reputation of social media has suffered. Efforts to brand mainstream news media as fake news have largely failed. Traditional print and broadcast news sources have maintained trust much better than online-only news sites.
That’s the conclusion of the Trust in News survey from media intelligence firm Kantar Media.
Support Journalism but Trust Few Journalists
Other major findings from the survey of 8,000 people in Brazil, France, the United Kingdom and the United States include:
- More than 70 percent of survey respondents agree that that quality journalism is key to a healthy democracy.
- People are skeptical about what they read. Slightly more than half believe what they read is true “most of the time.” Almost two thirds (61 percent) worry that news media are not holding politicians and business leaders sufficiently to account.
- Audiences are becoming more widely informed and sophisticated in evaluating news reports.
- Print magazines are the most trusted news sources, while social media sites and messaging apps are least trusted.
- Twenty-four-hour news channels and news bulletins maintain strong reputations as trusted sources with 78 percent of news audiences trusting them ‘the same’ or ‘more’ than before the fake news scandal.
- In Brazil and the USA, a significant percentage of the population believes ‘fake news’ impacted the outcome of their most recent election.
- Media companies have an opportunity to develop subscription models tailored for people under 35 years of age, who express a greater willingness to pay for news subscriptions.
What the Results Mean for PR
The findings hold important implications for public relations. The research upholds the value of traditional media relations. Pundits continually tout the spread of social media as a promotional tool and disregard traditional media, especially print.
They urge companies to promote their brand messages and news through social media, and discount print publications as living on the edge of extinction. The new survey may cause PR to question that strategy. PR placements in traditional print and broadcast channels may be more valuable due to the greater trust they inspire in audiences.
Numerous surveys have exposed a steady drop in trust in the media. Trust in media (43 percent) is at all-time lows in 17 countries, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer. Only 32% of respondents to a Gallup poll said they have “a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.”
News Sources are Very Different
The Kantar survey shows that not all media outlets are the same. Some companies may like to see their product mentioned in an online news site, but being associated with a notorious or marginally reputable website can damage the company’s image.
Since lack of public trust in the media damages trust in corporate news announcements, business and its PR professionals have a vested interest in improving the media’s reputation.
Bottom Line: Different types of media lost various levels of trust due to the fake news epidemic. Social media suffered the most, while trust in print and broadcast news remains relatively high. The public trusts online-online outlet much less than traditional media. The variable reputations of different types of news sources may become a factor in PR and marketing strategies.