Canadians’ confidence within the media at an all-time low

Confidence in the media has hit rock bottom in Canada. It’s the lowest in seven years. This phenomenon is deciphered by Sébastien Charlton, coordinator of the Center for Media Studies (CEM) at Laval University, and Colette Brin, director of the Center for Media Studies at Laval University.

ANALYSIS – According to the Digital News Report, produced by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, trust in news has dropped by 13 percentage points since the first data collection in 2016.

The 2022 survey found that 42% of Canadian respondents trust “most news most of the time”, a slight decrease from last year.

Change in share of Canadian, Anglophone and Francophone respondents who trust most news most of the time (2016 to 2022) and most news they read (2017 to 2022). In 2022, Canadians: n=2012; Anglophones: n=1486; French speakers: n=1004. As in the past, francophones are more confident in news and information sources than anglophones. For these two groups, these are the lowest results to date. (Digital news report)

Research also shows that age is an important factor linked to trust: adults over 35 trust news and media more than young adults. This confirms the results of many previous studies. Young people consume less news in general and get more information from social media and digital platforms in general.

media independence

English-speaking Canadians express less belief in the independence of news media from political and commercial influences, compared to previous surveys. However, belief in media independence remains stable among francophones.

“The news media in my country is independent and is not unduly influenced by politicians or the government most of the time” and “The news media in my country is independent and not unduly influenced by companies or corporations most of the time”. both questions in 2022, Canadians: n=2012; Anglophones: n=1486; French speakers: n=1004. (Digital News Report)

English speakers who identify with the political right are more likely to be skeptical of media independence. In addition, half of Canadians consider the country’s mainstream media to be politically close. Of those who consider them very close, only 21% trust most news most of the time.

The question sought to assess public perceptions of the polarization of the media landscape. But the figure instead suggests that a perceived lack of diversity of perspective and concentration of ownership are among the causes of growing media mistrust.

Consumer habits partly reflect these unfavorable views: an increasing number of respondents say they avoid exposure to the news, at least occasionally.

The most cited reasons in 2022 are the negative effect on mental or physical health, too much news on topics like politics or the coronavirus, and the depletion of information overload.

“Have you actively tried to avoid the news lately? » In 2022, Canadians: n=2012. (Digital news report)

More and More Canadians Are Paying for Information Online

Not everything is bleak for the media. Two years ago, the Digital News Report showed a growth in the number of Canadians contributing financially to online news. It reached its highest level in Canada so far in 2022.

Canadians who pay for news are also increasingly likely to financially support more than one news source, whether through subscriptions or donations. More of them expect their online media subscriptions to increase rather than decrease. But more than half of them say they will remain unchanged.

Subscriptions to online news services, however, remain far less popular than entertainment platforms such as streaming TV or music services, podcasts, audiobooks, and sports.

Change in distribution of Canadian respondents who paid for news online or accessed paid news online in the past year, from 2016 to 2022. In 2022, Canadians: n=2012; Anglophones: n=1486; French speakers: n=1004. (Digital news report)

Journalism in times of crisis

Although the survey was conducted during a period of crisis in January and February, during the “freedom train” protests in Ottawa and elsewhere in Canada, most of these results follow multi-year trends or are consistent with global findings. . of the Digital News Report, which covers 46 markets in 2022.

Negative perceptions may be linked to criticism of government support programs for news media, including federal tax credits.

These measures, along with the increase in advertising revenue during the pandemic, have given Canadian media some breathing space. But they also fueled some concerns about journalistic independence.

regulatory issues

Faced with the challenges of disinformation, governments are increasingly active in regulating the digital media ecosystem and supporting journalism.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began a few days after this investigation ended, intensified the pressure in this direction due to misleading or erroneous information disseminated on social media.

In this time of disruption and transformation, research such as the Digital News Report is helping to better understand the relevance and legitimacy of professional news sources to the public. Evidence-based analysis of changes in media consumption and user attitudes can support the development of public policy and journalistic best practices.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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