The EBU’s new Trust in Media report shows that radio and TV continue to be the most trusted media throughout Europe. By contrast, social networks are least trusted in 85% of countries.
This gap comes into sharp focus when it comes to trust in news about COVID-19. While 47% of people use social networks for news on the virus, only 14% rank it as one of the most trustworthy sources. Globally, TV news channels are the most-used source of COVID-19 information, and the second most-trusted source after government updates.
Public service media (PSM) news channels are particularly trusted. For example, 86% of German PSM TV news users rate the corona crisis coverage of ARD and ZDF as trustworthy – the highest attributed credibility of all media on offer. And 90% of Czech Television news viewers consider the crisis coverage of their public broadcaster as trustworthy.
Trust in the internet and social networks have seen significant declines compared to almost stable levels of trust in traditional media. In the last 5 years, trust in the internet has decreased in 91% of the countries surveyed, almost half of which to a significant degree.
High trust in news provided by national media means that citizens are less likely to perceive fake news as a problem. Additionally, the higher the level of trust in a country's broadcast media, the higher press freedom tends to be in that country. The strong correlation suggests that citizens' trust in radio and TV is intertwined with a free and independent news media landscape.
Dr David Fernandez Quijada, Head of the EBU’s Media Intelligence Service, said: “The results show that many people know who to trust – and not to trust – for crucial information, particularly in a time of crisis. As public service media, we will not let up in our work to provide valuable and independent news and services to citizens across Europe. This is more important than ever.”
The Trust in Media 2020 report is available online (you must register at ebu.ch before downloading the full report)
This report is primarily based on data from the 92nd Eurobarometer. The 92nd wave of the survey was conducted in November 2019 in the 28 EU member states as well as the five candidate countries. In the section about trust in news, the Reuters Digital News Report 2019 is used as an additional source, whereas the section on trust and COVID-19 is based on survey data from GlobalWebIndex, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, British regulator Ofcom and EBU member organizations.