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Trust in news sources down 6% in Australia: Reuters study

Trust in news sources down 6% in Australia: Reuters study Image by USA-Reiseblogger from Pixabay

Trust in news sources has fallen by 2% globally, but in Australia the fall is much steeper, at 6%, according to the annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report.

Last year, 50% of the Australians surveyed said they trusted their news. The 44% figure for 2019 placed Australia 18th out of the 38 countries surveyed.

The report noted that this drop in trust may have been caused by "turmoil at the ABC with accusations of political interference, combined with community concern about the takeover of the Fairfax newspaper stable by Nine Entertainment and overall political instability".

brand trust

ABC News was the most trusted brand, followed by SBS News and the Australian Financial Review.

Globally, the efforts of the news industry notwithstanding, there was only a small increase in the number of people paying for online news, be it by subscription, membership or donation.

The increase was limited to Nordic countries (Norway 34%, Sweden 27%). In the US, the biggest market, the percentage stayed at 16%, which it reached in 2017 after a big jump that year.

The survey covered 38 countries in Europe, the Americas, the Asia-Pacific region and Africa. This report will concentrate on the Australian findings; the full survey can be downloaded free here.

final samples

In Australia, the percentage of online news consumers who paid for what they consumed was 14%. Mobiles continued to be the main device by which online content was consumed, with 58% opting for the small screen.

Tablet use among users stood at 21%, a drop from the 27% in 2016. The percentage using desktop/laptop computers to access news stood at 51%, once again a drop from 2016 when it was 60%.

Facebook remained the most popular social media site for news, with 36%, down 5% on last year, citing it as a source. YouTube was second with 19%, again down, by 1%, and Facebook Messenger (10%, down 1%) made up the top three.

Twenty-seven percent of the Australians who took the survey said they shared news through social media, messaging or by email, while 19% commented on news sites, using social media or on the website directly.

Reflecting the increasing audience for podcasts, the survey found that 27% had listed to a podcast in the last month before the survey was conducted in January/February.

TV news continued to be a steady source of information for Australians while newspaper readers dropped and social media more or less stagnated.


Graphics: courtesy Reuters


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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