Canadians find mainstream news media more trustworthy than social networks: study

May 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The increased competition for attention in the digital era has not eroded public confidence in the mainstream news media, according to a study by researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.

According to a recent online survey of 1,682 adults, nine out of 10 Canadians judged provided by traditional to be reliable and trustworthy, compared to only one in four who say information from social networks is reliable.

The report found that while younger Canadians are more likely than their elders to have confidence in non-traditional news providers, they retain strong confidence in the mainstream media as well. The study is the fourth in a series of Canadian Media Research Consortium (CMRC) reports that looks at the changing news consumption habits of Canadians.

“In an era of increasing fragmentation and competition for established news media, this is good news for traditional journalism,” says Fred Fletcher, UBC Graduate School of Journalism adjunct professor and lead author of the study, Even in the Digital Era, Canadians Have Confidence in Mainstream News Media.

Young adults have more confidence in sites and blogs than average, but they still rank them far behind established news sources. Traditional news outlets were ranked as reliable or very reliable by between 83 and 88 per cent of young adults; only 33 per cent said the same about sites or blogs.

Confidence in the information found on social networking sites is higher among frequent visitors to social networks. Among Canadians who visit social networks at least daily, some 40 per cent regard the information found there as reliable.

“Social media and other information websites are used by many Canadians for new alerts and alternative perspectives, but the established news brands continue to be the gold standard for verification,” says Fletcher, who authored the study with UBC researchers Alfred Hermida, Darryl Korell and Donna Logan.

Although trust in established news media remains quite high, habitual consumption of news is declining. Canadians under 35 years of age are significantly less likely to regard keeping up with the news as an important part of their daily activities whereas almost all Canadians older than 55 think keeping up with the news is important.

“Traditional media remain an important part of the information mix but, increasingly it seems, people are consulting multiple sources,” says Fletcher.

The vast majority of Canadians thinks the critical functions performed by traditional journalism are important, such as exposing abuses of power by government and other powerful institutions, reporting the story behind the headlines and providing analysis of important events.

Despite the increasing importance of non-traditional sources of news and information, most Canadians think these functions can only be performed effectively by traditional journalism, the report states.

“The traditional media are the gatekeepers of but, even in the digital age, they remain crucial providers of verification and context,” Fletcher says.

Explore further: Less privileged kids shine at university, according to study

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Most Canadians unwilling to pay for news online: study

Apr 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Less than a month into The New York Times’ trial run in Canada of its campaign to charge for online content, a survey by University of British Columbia researchers suggests that the majority of Canadians ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

22 hours ago

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

22 hours ago

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

How to teach all students to think critically

23 hours ago

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills. ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

KingDWS
5 / 5 (1) May 13, 2011
Canadian media might be tolerable in what it covers at times but it is still fairly biased with agendas both hidden and some not at all hidden. The sad part of that is this bias is paid for or subsidized by the federal government.

Unfortunately no one just does news anymore.
COCO
1 / 5 (1) May 16, 2011
indeed - even with a potential oasis of alternate views from TVO - a provincially government funded station we continue to fed pablumn created in Washington and NY and other sites. Investigative journalism is dead in the Mainstream - ironic that to get better intel it is best to stream Russia Today or simply use Whatreallyhappend.com to see a complilation of critical news.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.