Low trust in news media

Published June 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin



Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid
Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

While the interest in news runs high, this does not translate into high trust of news.

A global survey (2020 Digital News Report), an annual project of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University has just released its findings on media habits and practices of 80,155 adults in 40 countries. This is the first time that the Philippines had participated in this online survey conducted during the months of January and February when the COVID-19 pandemic was starting, according to Yvonne T. Chua, associate professor of journalism at the University of the Philippines, who also prepared the Philippine profile.

Results in the Philippine segment showed that 95 percent of the 2,019 respondents indicated interest in news and 91 percent saying independent journalism is important for society to function properly.  However, trust in news is low 27 percent in the country which ranks 35th among the 40 media markets. And trust in social media is only 22 percent.

Online misinformation bothers 57 percent of respondents who identified government politicians or political parties as the leading source (44 percent).

Social media and TV are the primary sources of news accessed largely though smartphones.

About 68 percent said they get news through social media and 66 percent from TV. Only 22 percent get their news from print.

More than half (55 percent) said they prefer to watch the news than read (36 percent) or listen.  (7 percent).

ABS-CBN was the most used site accessed by 61 percent offline and by 54 percent online.

GMA Network was accessed by 53 percent offline and 47 percent online.The third most popular brand is the Philippine Daily Inquirer, (35 percent online and offline), followed by the Philippine Star, offline (30 percent) and the digital news site Rappler,online (31 percent). The top social media brands are Facebook used by 73 percent and You Tube, 49 percent.

GMA Network is considered the most trustworthy brand (73 percent), followed by Manila Bulletin, The Philippine Star, and TV5 (68 percent each), Inquirer and DZMM/Radyo Patrol (67 percent each).

Less than four in ten (38 percent) in the global survey said they trust “most news most of the time.”  Global concerns about misinformation remain high with more than half of the global sample (56 percent) saying they are concerned about what is true or false on the Internet when it comes to news.  Domestic politicians are the single most frequently named source of misinformation (40 percent) followed by activists (14 percent) and the media (13 percent).

The Philippine sample is representative of those who are online which is around 72 percent of the population. It underrepresents traditional media habits such as radio, TV, and print, and tends to reflect urban, richer, and more connected users which should be taken into consideration when interpreting results.

Several other global surveys on the news media conducted over the past three years reinforce the 2020 Digital News Report. In fact, one did note that “media is the least trusted institution.”

Proliferation of news sources, confusion between news and opinion, spread of misinformation, politicization of media are reasons given to explain the erosion in trust.

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2018 notes that “quality of reporting has gotten worse,” “that news is controlled by an agenda,” and “that it is too depressing and too biased.” Trust Barometer 2020 reports that capitalism (main driver of news media) in its current form is doing more harm than good.  About 57 percent view media as incompetentand unethical.

Should we, like many others continue to be bothered by the continuing spread of misinformation, disinformation and fake news?

Charles Beckett, professor of media and communication at the London School of Economics thinks this should not be a cause of much concern. In fact, he believes that fake news is the best thing that had happened to journalism. “It is a wakeup call to be more transparent, relevant. It gives mainstream journalism the opportunity to show that it has value, based on expertise, ethics, engagement, and experience. It has provoked debate, developed a business model of fact-checking, myth-busting, and getting its act together”.

More than at any time, we need the media, one of the most valuable resources in our Covid-19 times.

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