The increased propagandisation of News Corporation appears to be having a widespread effect on the way people regard journalism in general.
The latest Reuters Institute Digital News Report says trust in Australian news services continues its decline, with the least trusted media outlets coming from the Murdoch stable.
Only 41% of survey respondents said they trusted news overall, which was two percentage points lower than last year.
In the survey, which included all major news outlets in Australia, the ABC came out on top, with 66% of respondents saying they trusted ABC News, and 17% not trusting it. Seventeen per cent were undecided. SBS News, regional and local newspapers and the BBC also rated highly.
News Corporation’s major news outlets all had the lowest trust ratings (dragging down the average) with Sydney’s Daily Telegraph at just 41%, the Herald Sun at 43%, Sky News at 44% and the news.com.au website sitting at just 46%. The report said:
Trust in news (41%) is slightly down, placing Australia in the mid-range among the 46 countries. Trust in news brands has also declined across the board with commercial broadcasters suffering most. Amidst crises such as COVID-19 and major flooding, accurate, up-to-date local news is critical to audiences’ trust. Local or regional newspapers are ranked third, after the two public broadcasters.
The Reuters report surveyed 93,000 news consumers in 46 markets covering half of the world's population.
The report documents how the relationship between journalism and the public, across the world, is fraying — including a declining interest in news and an increase in news avoidance, resulting in an overall decrease in news consumption. It says:
More widely, this year’s data confirm how the various shocks of the last few years, including the Coronavirus pandemic, have further accelerated structural shifts towards a more digital, mobile, and platform-dominated media environment, with further implications for the business models and formats of journalism.
The Reuters survey is consistent with findings of the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, which found an overall decrease in trust in Australian institutions.
In this survey, only 52% of Australians said they trusted the government to do the right thing, while 58% said they trusted businesses and NGOs.
But, over the past year, trust in the media fell to 43% overall, which made it the only “institution” in Australia that was distrusted by most people. The Edelman survey found:
Trust in all media sources has fallen, with traditional media only trusted by 48% of Australians (-5 points), search engines by 47% (-4 points), owned media by 33% (-5 points) and social media by only 24% of Australians (-8 points). Not surprisingly, Australians’ concerns about disinformation and fake news remain high with 73% worried about false information or fake news being used as a weapon.
But just as Mark Twain popularised the phrase “Lies, damned lies, and statistics,” not all surveys are the same.
Last year’s Ipsos Trust in the Media study, which looked at change over a five-year period, found that Australians trust the media more than most other nations.
The Ipsos study found:
In Australia over the past five years, trust in newspapers and magazines has had a net decline of 14%. That is, 28% have less trust now versus 14% who trust them more. Trust in TV and radio had a net decline in trust of 13%, while trust in online news websites and platforms had a net decline in trust of 9%. Globally, newspapers and magazines suffered the greatest net decline in trust of 16% alongside TV and radio (16%), followed by online news websites and platforms at 12% versus five years ago.
Trust in traditional media in Australia was found to be much greater than the global average.
More than half of Australians (57%) trusted television and radio, with the majority (46%) saying they have a ‘fair amount of trust,’ while 11% said they have ‘a great deal of trust’ in TV and radio.
The Ipsos study did not compare public broadcasting with commercial outlets.
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