Public media boost confidence in news

A news conference on Switzerland's public news service Keystone

Publicly funded news outlets elevate people’s overall trust in journalism, according to a Swiss research team.

This content was published on November 17, 2016 minutes

Because of this, Swiss citizens have much greater confidence in the news they consume than their counterparts in southern European countries, the University of Zurich’s Research InstituteExternal link for the Public Sphere and Society saidExternal link on Thursday.

Those conclusions are based on a survey of 50,000 people in 26 countries conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. The Reuters news surveyExternal link, one of the biggest in the world, found 51% of people now use social media as a source of news and 12% say it is their main source.

It also found the rapid move to mobile news consumption shows no sign of slowing, but most people are still reluctant to pay for online news. Traditional news brands are struggling to vie for attention but remain important to news consumers.

Reassuring the public

The Zurich-based researchers said the confidence boost that comes from publicly funded news outlets increases people’s willingness to pay for news and acceptance of online media, which strengthens all other news organisations including traditional newspapers and other news businesses.

In Switzerland, the licence for the public Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) – the parent companyExternal link of – is periodically reviewed in parliament. In June, a federal report concluded that the SBC must keep evolving to adapt to the digital revolution overtaking all media.

An important factor is the growing number of young adults who get their news exclusively through social media, diminishing reliance on and confidence in professional news media. As a result, the Swiss researchers said, it is not surprising that young adults express the most distrust of the news media. 

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