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30 . 04 . 21

Local newspapers are top for trust

Words by: Print Power
Amidst a global ‘infodemic’, trust in media channels worldwide is in decline. But in Germany and France, local press are soaring to the top of the media trust league.
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In this post-truth era when ’alternative facts’ replace actual facts and feelings have more weight than evidence, there’s a rising tide of misinformation. And with that, an erosion of trust. Political instability, a worldwide outcry over systemic racism and the COVID-19 pandemic are together fuelling a culture of distrust. And with social media being a hotbed of disinformation, there’s a decrease of trust in the media.

The recently published 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer lays this bare: ‘The global infodemic has driven trust in all news sources to record lows, with social media (35 per cent) and owned media (41 per cent) the least trusted; traditional media (53 per cent) saw the largest drop in trust at eight points globally.’

 It’s not all gloomy. While globally, traditional news media is seeing a decline of trust, in Germany, newspapers remain the most credible medium after TV. And the more local the title, the more trusted it is. In a recent study of long-term media trust by the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, ‘newspapers remain an anchor of trust’. While 56 per cent of the population consider national newspapers to be trustworthy, the figure rises to an impressive 63 per cent for regional daily newspapers. And while 28 per cent of Germans expressed mistrust in the established media in 2019, that dropped to 16 per cent in 2020. Meanwhile, only five per cent of those surveyed trust news on social media networks.

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The same is true in France. The French Group of regional newspapers (PQR) saw an increase in subscriptions in 2020 as well as strong demand from advertisers. And a recent report by Statista revealed that regional or local newspapers were the most trusted source of news in 2020. These figures point to the power of local knowledge in cutting through the digital noise and disinformation. There is an onus on companies and brands to provide quality information that’s factual, authentic, reliable and trustworthy. And where social media and its culture of ‘fake news’ and deceiving ‘reality’ fail on the trust front, regional print media can confidently step into the gap and restore that trust. What sets the regionals apart? Their grasp of local issues, relatability, accountability and long-established media standards and practices give them a higher level of credibility. Having proximity to the area where the reader lives plays a part too. As does their focus on community issues and people.

Despite a global-level decline in trust in media channels, when it comes to trust in advertising formats, the case for printed media is more robust. Kantar’s recent Media Reactions study across all markets found that consumers’ most trusted advertising environments are all offline. TV ads are the most trusted, and newspaper, magazine, radio and cinema ads make up the rest of the top five. There’s a significant gap between users’ trust in ads offline and online. The offline channel average for trust is 20 per cent, while it’s only 11 per cent for online. And no online media channel inspires high advertising trust globally. Kantar calls trust in media ‘the new publishing battleground’ and it’s there for traditional print media’s taking.

This trust by proxy for brands advertising in traditional news media is underlined in the IPA’s recent Databank study 2021 where Peter Field reveals the positive impact of investing in news brands. He concludes that ‘campaigns that use news brands are more likely to deliver major long-term business effects than those that do not. They do this because of their strong impact on brand trust and quality perceptions – two brand effects that are low most strongly linked to profit growth.’

…campaigns that use news brands are more likely to deliver major long-term business effects than those that do not.
Peter Field
Marketing and advertising effectiveness expert

And he finds that having news brands in the campaign mix makes other digital media work harder. As well as increasing the business effectiveness of other media, they also enhance the key brand effects of trust and quality by a significant margin. The figures make for exciting reading. News brand advertising enhance social media trust effects by 74 per cent. And video trust effects by 80 per cent. This source credibility is substantial.

 While social media and online platforms are being eyed with increasingly more suspicion as news sources, and with trust at such a premium in the current climate, advertisers must recognise the advantages of partnering with trusted local traditional media to boost their brand. And while globally, trust in news brands is declining, it’s encouraging that they remain an effective channel for brand advertising. Print still proves itself to be the channel for trust, effectiveness and ultimately, ROI. And a dynamic partner in the media mix.