We are living in very uncertain times.
It is not unusual to be more alert to the news as the world staggers from one crisis to another and I was therefore very interested to see what the annual Digital News Report that is published by the Reuters Institute would reveal about the consumption of news in 2023.
I should declare myself as a (recent) massive cynic about most of the mainstream media and have a particular distaste for the incestuous nature of the relationship that Reuters has with the pharmaceutical industry. It seems, from the report, that it is not just me, Prince Harry and Hugh Grant that are a bit fed up with our news outlets.
There are some fairly remarkable statistics this year, with my personal highlight being the fact that just 19% of people in Greece trust the news that they read, but the clear trend is that trust is shifting from ‘traditional’ journalists to online influencers.
As I mentioned above, I have a healthy scepticism when it comes to our traditional media and it really doesn’t take long to find some worrying relationships between industry and media when you play the ‘follow the money’ game. Being honest, it took the whole Covid era to really wake me up to the extent to which the mainstream media is controlled by political interests, but the standards of some of the journalism over the past few years has too often been woeful.
I am therefore not surprised that trust is falling so rapidly, but it would appear that more and more of us are simply switching it off. It is interesting to see that it is a phenomenon that spans the globe, with news fatigue being the new epidemic across a number of territories:
This must surely fly in the face of what you would expect when living through such turbulent times and is a very damning indictment of once trusted media brands.
I do, however, question whether trusting some maverick TikToker to be the single source of truth is a wise strategy. There can be no doubt that some influencers are incredibly …….errrrr…… influential, but I am not sure how qualified they may be to ‘educate’ on some issues.
Although a behemoth, a lot of the report is specific country focussed data and you can read the opening pages for a useful summary. It is definitely an interesting read.
The big question is how will the news outlets reverse the rot? Falling readership and trust will inevitably be hurting revenues and the the industry has to address the problem if it wishes to thrive and perhaps, dare I say it, even survive?
Personally, I think that the only resolution is to move away from the Orwellian nature of today’s mainstream media. One sided propaganda does not earn trust. Investigative journalism, where all sides of a debate are explored, is the only way to rebuild such trust.
Let’s see what the 2024 report has to say, but I am not holding my breath…