The internet may have overtaken TV as Australians’ main source of news, but when it comes to trusting news it’s a bit of a different story.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to more people at home and an understandably greater thirst for news. Results from a Roy Morgan poll released last month showed how Australians were sourcing news and what sources they are trusting; comparing March 2018 with March 2020.
As for main sources of news in March this year:
- TV: 59% (-7.1%)
- Radio: 41.9% (-2.8%)
- Printed newspapers: 25% (-6.5%)
- News or newspaper websites: 29.7% (+3.3%)
- Magazine (printed, website or app): 5% (-0.6%)
- News feed sites: 16.5% (+4.6%)
- Social media: 37.7% (2.5%)
- Email subscription update: 8.6% (+0.4%)
Respondents were able to choose all that apply, but the total for internet worked out to be 60.8% (+5%), just eclipsing TV.
With regard to trusting news sources (only one choice could be selected), TV still came out well ahead at 33.4% (-5%) compared to total internet 25.7% (+3.6%) – but was losing ground to the online world.
It was interesting to note social media actually gained traction on the trust front at 5% (+0.8%). It’s interesting given the types of “news” floating around social media in March. For example, the rather out-there conspiracy theories linking 5G to COVID-19. It doesn’t seem to matter how much information is put out there debunking this, the legend lives on and will no doubt continue to.
Roy Morgan notes the growth of social media in recent years coupled with the era of ‘fake news’ has put a premium on ‘trust’ in media.
“Traditional media channels such as TV, radio, and newspapers that have built a high degree of trust over many decades do retain an advantage against new digital media,” stated the firm. “However, over the last two years Roy Morgan has revealed Internet channels are increasingly being relied upon to provide trusted sources of news.”
And as we’ve discovered, that’s not always such a good thing. While “do your own research” has become a catch-cry for conspiracy theorists; objectively evaluating whatever information is dug up in that research is not everyone’s forte.