Trust in Media: A Malaysian Perspective

New global study shows trust in traditional media is perceived to have declined over the past five years, due to the prevalence of fake news and doubts about media outlet's intentions.

The author(s)
  • Ipsos Malaysia
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A new Ipsos global study finds that people across 27 countries are divided on whether they trust traditional media (newspapers, magazines, TV & radio). Globally, 49% trust TV and radio to be a reliable source of news and information (46% do not have much trust, or no trust at all), and 47% trust newspapers and magazines (48% do not). However, the survey, conducted online among adults under age 74, also finds that trust in these mediums is perceived to have declined over the last five years. Globally, one-third (34%) say they trust newspapers and magazines less than they did five years ago, compared to 17% who say they trust them more. Similarly, 34% say they trust TV and radio less vs. 18% more.

At the same time, people believe that fake news is prevalent in the information they receive via different sources. At the global level, more than half (52%) believe there is a great deal or a fair amount of fake news in newspapers and magazines, as well as on TV and radio. People are particularly skeptical of the information received by online news websites and platforms, as 62% overall say the information provide contains a great deal or fair amount of fake news. Another dimension of media trust is whether respondents think different sources act with good intentions when providing news and information. Overall, the percentage of people who believe the media act with good intentions is similar to current levels of trust. Exactly half of global respondents believe newspapers and magazines act with good intentions, and 52% agree when it comes to TV and radio.

Other findings include:

  • Trust in media sources varies greatly across individual countries. For example, 71% in India and 68% in Malaysia trust TV and radio, compared to just 17% in Serbia. Country patterns remain stable for trust in different news sources, with Malaysia ranking among the highest along with India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, while Hungary, Serbia and Poland are often found among the lowest.

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  • Perceived changes in trust of traditional media sources also vary by country. Though trust is perceived to have declined at the global level, that is not the case in all countries. Malaysians reports that they trust the media more than five years ago, and the increase in trust is particularly strong for traditional media such as newspapers, TV and radio.

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  • Online websites and platforms tell a bit of a different story from traditional media. Though they are only slightly less trusted than traditional media (45% trust them, 50% distrust) at the global level, there has been a slightly smaller perceived decline in trust over the past five years (a net change of -12% compared to -16% for traditional media). In Malaysia, there is a bigger trust gap between traditional media and online news sources than it is in other countries.
  • Across the world, people are most trusting of news and information they receive from people they know in person. Globally, among sources of news and information, only personal relationships have grown in trustworthiness over the pass five years. Malaysians also trust news and information from people they know in person more than other source.
  • Globally, opinions are split about whether media is acting with good intentions. Malaysians, along with people from India and South Africa, have a strong belief that the media act with good intentions. 79% of Malaysians think newspapers & magazines have good intentions (vs 50% globally), trust the intentions of TV & radio (vs 52% globally), and for online news sources the figure is 70% (vs 49%).
  • Opinions across the world are split regarding whether public broadcasters can be trusted more than private ones. In India, Peru, Sweden, Germany and Malaysia, respondents are much more trusting of public broadcasters. In Hungary and Poland, on the other hand, the majority trusts private broadcasters over public ones. These results indicate that there is no global trend regarding trust in broadcasters, but that trust levels depend on the country-specific situation of how broadcasting services are organized and controlled.

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  • Regardless of levels in public broadcasters, a plurality (46%) of the global population agrees that public broadcasters provide a necessary service.

Arun Menon, Managing Director, Ipsos Malaysia:

"It is interesting how whilst the rest of the world is declining in terms of their trust in media, Malaysia's trust has increased. This was particularly obvious in the data post 2018 Elections. Malaysian's also do tend to trust news coming from sources that they are familiar with, giving traditional channels an edge over online news platforms. Within a community like Malaysia where family and key influencers opinion's are heavily depended on, this is important for the community to take note as what we say and pass on to the people we know matters, hence we would need to be cautious and careful as to the source and type of information that we passed on."


  • These are the findings of Ipsos' Global Advisor survey, an online survey conducted between January 25 and February 8, 2019.
  • The survey instrument is conducted in 27 countries around the world, via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries reporting in this release are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.
  • The results comprised of an international sample of 19,541 adults ages 16-74 in most countries, ages 18-74 in Canada, South Africa, Turkey and the United States, and ages 19-74 in South Korea. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel, except for Argentina, Belgium, Hungary, India, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, Malaysia, Chile, Peru and Serbia, where each have a sample of approximately 500+.
  • 15 of the 27 countries surveyed online generate nationally representative samples in their countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United States).
  • Brazil, China, Chile, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey produce a national sample that is more urban & educated, and with higher incomes than their fellow citizens. We refer to these respondents as "Upper Deck Consumer Citizens". They are not nationally representative of their country.
  • Data are weighed to match the profile of the population. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll og 1,000 accurate to +/-3.1 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/-4.5 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.
The author(s)
  • Ipsos Malaysia