Distrust in News Connected to Politics: Reuters Institute’s Report

Some distrust may be rooted in coverage that has chronically stigmatised segments of the public, said the report.

2 min read
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A recently published news report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism examines trust in news from the perspective of journalists from various parts of the world.

The report has been authored by Benjamin Toff, Sumitra Badrinathan, Camila Mont’Alverne, Amy Ross Arguedas, Richard Fletcher and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, and has been written after a study of nearly 200 publications related to trust in news and 82 interviews on the subject with journalists and other practitioners across the US, UK, India and Brazil.

“The interviews include journalists from the most prominent brands in each of these countries as well as additional voices of those working to address challenges in the information environment, both inside and outside of newsrooms,” said the press release.


Key Findings

Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • There is no single ‘trust in news’ problem, but there are multiple challenges pertaining to the supply of news and the public’s demand for information.
  • Public understanding of how journalism works is low. Social media isn’t helping.
  • Some distrust may be rooted in coverage that has chronically stigmatised or ignored segments of the public.
  • Assessments of trust and distrust are deeply intertwined with politics.

Four Questions

The authors of the report have further outlined four research questions “that will shape the work of the Trust in News Project in the years to come.”

  • How are platforms damaging to news organisations’ brand identities?
  • Which audience engagement strategies build trust and which may undermine it?
  • How much is too much transparency and what types matter most?
  • Where do preconceptions about news come from and how can they be changed?

What Dr Toff Said

Dr Benjamin Toff, Senior Research Fellow and lead author of the report, according to the press release, said:

“The Trust in News Project’s first report underscores the complexity of the challenges involved in reversing declines in trust in news worldwide. There is likely no one-size-fits-all approach, but knowing what works, what doesn’t, and why is vital to avoid decisions that might waste already scarce resources.”   

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