National television is the most trusted news source, ahead of newspapers and public radio, but the internet is gaining ground, especially among the young, according to a major worldwide survey of trust in the media.
The poll, conducted in 10 countries by GlobeScan on behalf of Reuters, the BBC and the Media Centre, found that 82 per cent of 10,230 adults questioned rated national television as their most trusted news source overall.
That compared with 75 per cent who trusted national or regional newspapers, 67 per cent who said they trusted public radio and 56 per cent who opted for international satellite television.
Despite the popularity of the internet in more developed countries and the emergence of “web-logging” or blogging, neither fared well in the survey, according to Globescan President Doug Miller.
“The internet is gaining ground among the young,” he said.
“The jury is still out on ‘blogs’ – just as many people distrust them as trust them,” he told Reuters.
The research found that just 25 per cent of respondents said they trusted blogs, while 23 per cent said they did not trust them.
Dean Wright, Managing Editor of consumer media at Reuters, said he believed blogs would eventually come of age, as newspapers themselves once did.
Wright added: “It’s a relatively recent phenomenon that people believe what’s written in a newspaper. One hundred years ago, newspapers were incredibly partisan: they were the blogosphere of their day.
“There are already blogs that people trust and quality will win out once people realise which ones they can trust.”
According to the research, television is still seen as the most “important” news source (56 per cent), followed by newspapers (21 per cent), internet (9 per cent) and radio (9 per cent).
Miller said that although the internet attracted a lesser score than television or newspapers, it was possible to see a clear change afoot in public attitudes.
He added: “The poll clearly shows that the march of demographics will occur vis-Ga-vis online sources of news.”
Online sources were, for example, the first choice among 19 per cent aged between 18 and 24, compared to just 3 per cent in the 55-64 age range.
“But although it is changing, our research perhaps suggests that this change in internet usage may not be as fast as some who have been investing in it believe,” Miller said.
Rolling news television stations have also come of age, he believes.
Americans who were asked to name their most trusted specific news sources plumped for Fox News (mentioned by 11 per cent) and CNN (also 11 per cent), with others some way behind. ABC, for example, was chosen by 4 per cent, as was NBC.
Miller said the brands chosen did not simply reflect trust.
“Trust has a number of elements,” he added. “It is not just about objectivity but about a sense of what people most use, what they like.
“Clearly there is a loyal audience for Fox and CNN but the figures themselves are modest.”