A study on how people globally engage with the news found that Canadians are increasingly losing trust in the media.
A report released wednesday by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that Canadians who place their trust in the news fell from 58 percent to 42 percent over the last four years.
The study is based on an online survey of 93,432 people, conducted in 46 countries at the end of January and beginning of February by YouGov, a UK-based market research company, on behalf of the institute.
Canada ranked 18 in overall trust out of the 46 countries surveyed, which include Australia at 20, the UK at 36, and the United States taking the last spot.
“Large numbers of people see the media as subject to undue political influence, and only a small minority believe most news organizations put what’s best for society ahead of their own commercial interest,” wrote Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute, in the report .
Among the Canadian respondents, only 29 percent indicated that the media is free from undue political influence, compared to 39 percent in 2017. There is also a majority of 73 percent who believe the media is not left alone from undue business influence, an increase of 9 percentage points since 2017.
The report added that dissatisfaction with the governments and pandemic fatigue may have contributed to the negative attitudes toward the media, and the perceptions that media outlets have not been critical enough of official sources such as public health authorities.
A February study by marketing consultancy firm Edelman Canada found that 61 percent of Canadians believe journalists and reporters were purposely trying to mislead them “by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations,” with business leaders (60 percent) and government (58 percent ) not far behind.
In addition, less than half of Canadians view government leaders and CEOs as trustworthy, at 43 percent and 36 percent, respectively, said the Edelman report, which is based on an online survey with over 1,500 Canadians during the period of Nov. 1–24 , 2021.
Meanwhile, the Reuters report noted people around the world were increasingly avoiding news that affected their mood negatively (36 percent), and those that focused too much on politics and COVID-19 (43 percent).
In Australia, 41 percent of the respondents said they selectively avoided the news, a jump from 30 percent in 2017. In the UK, the response nearly doubled, from 24 percent in 2017 to 46 percent in 2022. The increase in the United States was more moderate, with 42 percent avoiding the news, compared to 38 percent in 2017. (pg 13)
To win public trust again, media could try to provide factual information and to “simplify language and better explain or contextualize complex stories,” the report suggested.
“The need for reliable information, careful context, and considered debate has rarely been greater, but so too has the desire for stories that inspire and give hope of a better tomorrow,” the authors said.