Old-school print, radio and television journalists, and traditional media venues often do well in a crisis. And the world has plenty of those, including climate change, the pandemic and war. While many journalists and media institutions have adapted to digital technologies, they still struggle to gain reader and viewer attention in a diffused, competitive media world. Many people don’t care about the news, and distrust the people and institutions that provide it. A surprising number avoid the news altogether. Researchers at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism studied this phenomenon internationally with empirical rigor. Their report provides insight, explanations and detailed information on the state of digital news worldwide.
People’s trust in the news is in decline worldwide.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, people’s trust in the media’s news coverage as a credible source of relevant and often important information rose. Subsequently, however, trust has decreased in nearly half the countries Reuters surveyed, while trust increased in fewer than 10. The United States registered the lowest level of trust at 26% of the audience, and Finland’s was the highest at 69%. Overall, among the countries Reuters surveyed, only 42% trust the news the majority of the time.
Interest in the news in Argentina, Brazil, Spain and the United Kingdom trended downward prior to the pandemic. Interest remained relatively stable in other countries, especially Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Finland.
The situation in the United States follows a different trajectory. Interest in the news spiked during Donald Trump’s presidential administration, and declined after Joe Biden’s inauguration.
More and more people feel disconnected from the news and are turning away from it altogether.
People’s attention to online and social media hasn’t compensated for...
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen is director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and professor of Political Communication at the University of Oxford. Richard Fletcher, Director of Research, contributed, along with visiting Fellow Nic Newman and researchers Craig T. Robertson and Kirsten Eddy.