Report Finds Increased Need For Trusted And Reliable News During Pandemic

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report has found that the coronavirus pandemic has driven the need for trusted and reliable news, with news brands seeing a rise in subscriptions and trust.

In the UK, the pandemic has driven news consumption, particularly with regards to digital subscriptions. The Times and the Telegraph have increased their digital subscribers to around 400,000 while the Guardian reports 900,000 regularly pay for their online journalism via their apps and recurring donations. Trust in the media has also risen.

The study also reports: “Publishers are hoping the government may be able to help squeeze more money out of platforms.

“Facebook rolled out its news service in the UK in January, which involves substantial payments to leading publishers, and Google is also licensing news content – but the sums involved remain modest compared with deals done in Australia.

“Some expect the creation of a new Digital Markets Unit to regulate digital platforms based within the Competition Commission may encourage more and better deals, while the communications regulator Ofcom will be in charge of regulating various online harms.”

Overall the study found that trust in news has increased in almost all countries since the pandemic.

Lead author of the study Nic Newman said: “The focus on factual reporting during the COVID-19 crisis may have made the news seem more straightforward, while the story has also had the effect of squeezing out more partisan political news.

“This may be a temporary effect, but in almost all countries we see audiences placing a greater premium on accurate and reliable news sources.”

However the report has also warned that the pandemic has lead to “layoffs and closures in an already fragile media eco-system” in the UK, and globally concern over misinformation remains high, with 58 per cent of respondents showing concern about the veracity of information they find on the internet, with Facebook being the platform most identified as a source of false information.

To read the report in full, click here.