How can the media win back trust?

Five lessons we learnt from the Kantar Media Exchange

1.  Quality journalism can drive traffic

Panellist Simon Neville, associate director at Hanbury Strategy, noted that ‘click-bait culture’ encourages journalists to produce content that they know will get clicks which influences what is being written and the accuracy of the news, but it’s clear that no snazzy headline can beat good, groundbreaking journalism. Head of investigations at the Financial Times Paul Murphy told the audience that its article on the President’s Club scandal, a story Murphy’s team was responsible for breaking, was read three times more than any other article ever posted on the newspaper’s website. Quality journalism is worth investing in.

2. People are consuming news from more places

According to the Trust in News report from Kantar Media, people are going to four separate media channels to get their news on average, including TV, radio and social media. More than a third of people in the UK said they had increased the number of news sources they use, with that number increasing in the under-35 age group.

Marcus Gault, managing director at Kantar Media, highlighted findings from the report and added that those aged 18-35 are consuming news from more places than the older generation and are more willing to pay for it online. More than two in five people under the age of 35 have paid for online news in the past year compared to just 18 per cent of people over 55.  Offline, however, nearly half of 55+ year-olds said they had bought a newspaper, with 38 per cent of under 35-year-olds saying the same.

3.  Social media helps build a journalist's brand

Neville, who was the former business editor for Buzzfeed before joining Hanbury Strategy, told the audience that he was once told by an editor that Twitter was a journalist’s brand and that posting there would continue to grow it. Neville also posited that many young journalists see themselves as activists, so want to give personal opinions for that reason, as well as building their brand. As a result, the lines between news and opinion seem to be blurring.

However, the Trust in News report found that building a brand creates trust, and those who trusted newspapers were more likely to buy one.  

4. Newspapers aren't clear enough on advertorials

Stephanie Bailey, managing director, corporate, at Fleishman Hillard Fishburn, said that the commercial arm of the paper has to use the brand to allow the news part to do its work, meaning that it is now harder for readers to spot what is editorially robust and what people have paid for. There needs to be a clearer divide if the media industry wants to inspire greater trust.

5. Readers are worried about impartiality 

According to the Trust in News report, traditional news channels are twice as likely to be trusted than social media channels, but only a third of people believe that the media is free from undue political influence. Almost two thirds of people across the world worry that news media are not holding politicians and business leaders sufficiently to account. 

Neville acknowledged that new media sites such as Buzzfeed have benefited from this, since they are seen as apolitical, but the report found that online-only news outlets are still trusted less than print or broadcast.

There are, however, concerns about people in power publicly accusing the media of inaccuracy. It is not always a case of the media winning back trust, but stopping politicians from destroying it in the first place.

You can download the full Trust in News report here. A full write-up of the Kantar Media Exchange will appear in the upcoming issue of CorpComms Magazine