How can the media win back trust?

Using findings from Kantar's recent Trust In News study, we asked our panel of industry leaders  - Paul Murphy, Head of Investigations, Financial Times, Steph Bailey, Managing Director, Corporate, FleishmanHillard Fishburn, Simon Neville Associate Director Hanbury Strategy and Marcus Gault, Managing Director, Kantar Media – in the wake of ‘fake news’, how can the media win back trust?

In-depth quality and analysis increase trust

Kantar’s global Trust in News study found that mainstream news still has a good reputation but the ‘fake news’ phenomenon has badly hit the reputation of social media sources. Traditional news channels were found to be twice as likely to be trusted compared to social media and messaging channels – with print magazines the most trusted news source, closely followed by TV and radio news.

"People go back to traditional media channels such as television and radio to retrieve news they trust as opposed to newer channels such as social media where the awareness of fake news is strong.", Marcus Gault, Kantar Media.

The biggest functional driver of trust among the features of news media that were measured in the survey, is the ability to provide in-depth commentary and analysis.

The panel was in agreement that the pressure for “click-friendly” content has impacted news accuracy and more in-depth, longer form editorial content; “The worry around click- bait is that you lose the quality of journalism. The "click-bait culture" encourages journalists to produce content that they know will get traffic which influences what is being written and the accuracy of the news."

The pressure to produce articles in a short space of time also means less attention to is paid to source checking. One panel member believes news organisations need to invest in longer form editorial content on their digital platforms; “You need a website owner willing to invest the time in stories - sometimes that means waiting for them”.

“There used to be a very clear divide between news and comment”

Another theme touched on by the panel is the now common pressure journalist’s face to add their own personal voice to a story, which affects impartiality: “Journalists used to write what was expected of them. Journalism has become more conversational in the digital age - readers want news, opinion and commentary”.

One panel member shared their experience of being encouraged to broadcast their own opinions and build their own personal brand through social media and other digital platforms, “Whereas there used to be a very clear divide between news and comment, digital has now moved us towards more conversational news . It became absurd not to include your opinion. An editor once told me 'Remember that Twitter is your brand' ''.

The panel agreed that the lines have blurred between news and comment pieces, also raising concerns around a trend for young journalist to see themselves as activists, share unfiltered opinions.

You can read extended coverage of the discussion in the next edition of CorpComms Magazine and catch up on the highlights on Twitter using our hashtag - #KMexchange.

Read the full Kantar Trust in News study.