Trust and Confidence in News Sources

Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA)

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Erosion of Trust in Mainstream Media

  • Trust in traditional news media is showing signs of eroding. While two in three (65%) have some level of trust, this is down four points from 2017. Only 11% trust the media a great deal.
  • Indeed, trust in traditional news sources such as broadcast TV news (59%, -3pts) and news radio (51%, -4 pts) has declined since 2017, while online-only news publications have seen an 8-point jump in trust over the same period.
  • Stories shared on social media are now accorded slightly more trust in Canadians’ minds when they are shared by friends or family members (44%, +5 pts) than by a traditional Canadian media company (40%, -2 pts). News that is sponsored (40%), posted by a business or political leader (32%) or celebrity (38%) is more likely to incur mistrust.
  • Despite waning trust in several media sources, the overwhelming majority (79%, +2 pts) say that they believe the news media in cases where senior government officials deny reports in the national news media or say they aren’t accurate.

News Saturation and Uncertainty

  • Some Canadians feel saturated with news: nearly three in ten (28%) say they feel overwhelmed by all the news coming at them, more than twice as many as say they just can’t get enough news and want more (11%). A majority (61%) think they’re getting just the right amount of news.
  • With so many sources of available news, it can be difficult to distinguish one type of content from another. While more than two in three Canadians (68%) claim they can always tell the difference between a news story and an opinion or commentary piece, one in four (24%) admit they’re not so sure.
  • A majority trust the mainstream media to give unbiased political coverage (59%) and think news organizations are fair in their coverage of Canadian political leaders (53%). However, half (49%) think there can often be an unfair pile-on when Canadian leaders have a misstep or gaffe.

Shaping the News on Social Media

  • Only half of Canadians (49%) want to see more mainstream media news stories in their social media feeds. At the same time, one in three (34%) want the news in their social media feeds to reflect their political leanings or point of view (50% disagree).
  • News format preferences vary depending on where Canadians access their news media. When obtained through social media, Canadians want news to be limited to top-line headlines or minimal detail to get a quick glimpse at what’s going on. Deep-dives on key issues are preferred for newspapers, newspaper websites or broadcast TV news.
  • These findings come as social media is set to overtake broadcast TV as a leading source of news for Canadians. Only half got their news from broadcast TV last month, down significantly from a year ago. Meanwhile, news consumption through social media is on the rise. At a glance:
    • Top 5 media where news accessed in the past month:
      • Broadcast TV news: 51% (-7 pts)
      • Facebook: 46% (-2 pts)
      • Social media (generally): 42% (+4 pts)
      • News radio: 41% (+1 pt)
      • Print newspapers: 40% (-2 pts)
    • Sources of news consumption:
      • Local: 46% (+1 pt)
      • National: 32% (-1 pt)
      • International: 22% (unchanged)


About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 16 to 21, 2018, on behalf of RTDNA. For this survey, a sample of 1000 Canadians aged 18+ from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Ontarian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Darrell Bricker, CEO
Ipsos Global Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2001


About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of Canadian American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.
Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, Ipsos Public Affairs is the polling partner for Global News. Internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.
With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.
Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.
Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,782.7 million in 2016.

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs