Britain’s trust in news organisations tumbles amid the COVID pandemic

Less than half of Britain’s people trust in news organisations as a source for COVID-19 information, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said.

“Trust in the news has fallen over 30 percentage points since 2015,” concluded the authors of the Reuters Institute’s annual digital news report. The level of trust has fallen throughout the pandemic and about 8 million people in Britain are now at risk of being less informed, uninformed or misinformed about the disease just as the government grapples with a second wave, the Institute said in a report.

“The significant growth in the number of people vulnerable to misinformation means the UK is less well equipped to deal with the coronavirus communications crisis during the second wave and the winter ahead,” director Rasmus Kleis Nielsen said.
Trust in news organisations as a source about the pandemic fell to 45% in August from 57% in April. Daily use of COVID-19 news has dropped 24 percentage points over the same period, to 55% from 79%, the Institute’s report said.

While most people in the United Kingdom were well informed significant minorities – around 20 million people – felt neither the news media nor the government had explained what people should do in response to the virus.

The research also suggests it may be time to reappraise which news outlets are considered to be the biggest in the country, in an age where print newspaper sales continue to collapse and even Rupert Murdoch’s News UK – the owner of the Times and the Sun – is moving towards a digital-focused operation.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is a research centre at the University of Oxford that tracks media trends. The Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Thomson Reuters, funds the Reuters Institute.


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