By Marchel Espina

Nielsen said that for the first time in the 10 years that they have been doing the report, the public has realised the “value and importance of independent professional reporting.” 

Trust gap widens in many parts of the world

He said there has been a significant increase in trust in news this year, with 44 percent of respondents saying they feel they can trust most news most of the time, an increase of 6 percent over the previous year. 

“Since there’s been no similar increase in trust found via various digital platforms, such as social media, the trust gap between news in general and the news found via various platforms has grown in many parts of the world during the pandemic,” Nielsen said.  

He noted the level of trust varies from market to market. 

In Asia-Pacific, the trust levels are as diverse as the region, with higher numbers coming from Thailand, Singapore, and Australia and lower trust ratings in South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan, he said. 

Moreover, Nielsen said more trusted brands have done better during the pandemic, especially in terms of attracting a great audience and also retaining that audience by demonstrating value and by providing useful and credible information.

“We see this both for private sector providers like VG in Norway, and The Irish Times in Ireland, as well as public service media in many parts of Europe,” he added.

Nielsen also said there is still a concern about misinformation.

“When we ask people what topics they’ve seen where there’s misinformation in the past week, COVID looms large. Alongside the perennial favourite – politics, which is sort of the engine and subject of so much misinformation and disinformation around the world,” he added.

When they asked people about who they think is responsible for misinformation, they identified “domestic politicians, political parties, and even their own government as the source” of false and misleading information, he said.

Pressure on traditional models

But even with misinformation, the report found the majority of the people still remain reluctant to pay for online news. 

This is because news is “literally everywhere” and people think they can get all the information from an aggregator app, according to the respondents.

However, Nielsen said there are people who subscribe to the news because they believe in the value of journalism. 

In concluding, he noted that “it’s clear the pandemic has accelerated digital change, benefiting a few winners, most prominent the big platform companies, but also some publishers, even as it has also put further pressure on traditional models, in particular advertising and print advertising.

“There is a question, I think here, about how news media can build on the trust premium gained during the pandemic in many countries across the world and for many brands,” he added. “I think there’s a question about how much further pay models can go and how journalism in the news industry can serve also those people who are not prepared or able to pay for online news.”

About the author: Marchel Espina is a multimedia journalist and press freedom advocate from Bacolod City, Philippines.

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