Consumers report trusting media less, personal relationships more

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 outlets‘ intentions.

The author(s)

  • Robert Grimm Ipsos Public Affairs, Germany
  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
  • Mallory Newall Ipsos Public Affairs, US
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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, and 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 they 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 fairly stable for trust in different news sources, with India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and South Africa ranking among the highest, while Hungary, Serbia and Poland are often found among the lowest.
  • Perceived changes in trust of traditional media sources also vary by country. Though trust is perceived to have declined at the global level, this is not the case in all countries. In fact, people are now reporting higher trust levels in media in countries such as India and Saudi Arabia compared to five years ago. Meanwhile, trust is perceived to have declined most strongly in Serbia and Hungary.
  • 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).
  • Who benefits the most from this perceived change in media trust? Interpersonal relationships. Across the world, people are most trusting of news and information they receive from people they know in person. Furthermore, among sources of news and information, only personal relationships have grown in trustworthiness over the past five years.
  • Opinions across the world are split regarding whether public broadcasters can be trusted more than private ones. In India, Peru, Sweden and Germany, 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.
  • Regardless of levels of trust in public broadcasters, a plurality (46%) of the global population agrees that public broadcasters provide a necessary service.
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 monthly 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 are 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 Arabi, South Africa, 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, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and 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 weighted to match the profile of the population. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 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)

  • Robert Grimm Ipsos Public Affairs, Germany
  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
  • Mallory Newall Ipsos Public Affairs, US

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