There is no single ‘trust in news’ problem, but rather multiple challenges involving the supply of news and demand for information, according to a new report from the Trust in News Project.
In this first report from the project, the focus is on the issue of trust in news and what those who study journalism or practice it think about the issue.
The study combined an extensive review of existing research on trust in news (including nearly 200 interdisciplinary publications) and original interviews on the subject (including 82 with journalists and other practitioners across several countries) to assess the knowns and unknowns of trust.
It found that:
There is no single ‘trust in news’ problem, but rather multiple challenges involving both the supply of news and demand for information.
Many scholars and practitioners have diagnosed problems in the production of news that may contribute to distrust.
Internal and external initiatives centred around transparency, engagement, and media literacy have shown promise, but empirical evidence about what works, with whom, and under what circumstances, remains less clear.
Efforts to improve trust, as important as they may be, involve trade-offs in divided and polarised societies and can also be at odds with other important priorities, such as holding power to account.
Benjamin Toff , Senior Research Fellow and lead author of the report, 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.”