What We Think We Know and What We Want to Know: Perspectives on Trust in News in a Changing World

Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

28 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Benjamin Toff

Benjamin Toff

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism; Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Sumitra Badrinathan

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Camila Mont'Alverne

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Amy Ross Arguedas

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Richard Fletcher

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Date Written: December 3, 2020

Abstract

This report summarises some of what is known and unknown about trust in news, what is contributing to changing attitudes about news worldwide, and how media organisations are responding to increased digital competition. The report combines an extensive review of existing research on the subject along with findings from 82 in-depth interviews with journalists and other practitioners across Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States; four countries with varying media and political systems. The report argues that there is no single ‘trust in news problem’ but rather multiple challenges involving both the supply of news and the public’s demand for information. Empirical evidence about what works, with whom, and under what circumstances, remains lacking, especially around the role played by platform companies. The report emphasises the need to grapple with trade-offs. Some efforts to regain or retain trust in accurate and reliable news are likely to alienate some audiences over others.

Keywords: News media trust, comparative research, online news, social media, credibility, engaged journalism

Suggested Citation

Toff, Benjamin and Badrinathan, Sumitra and Mont'Alverne, Camila and Ross Arguedas, Amy and Fletcher, Richard and Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis, What We Think We Know and What We Want to Know: Perspectives on Trust in News in a Changing World (December 3, 2020). Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3750935

Benjamin Toff (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication ( email )

420 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Sumitra Badrinathan

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Camila Mont'Alverne

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Amy Ross Arguedas

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Richard Fletcher

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

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