Trust in Australian News is Rising, Despite Decline in Industry

A new report into digital news has found that while Australians have become more trusting of news over the past 12 months, the majority don’t know the news industry is financially struggling.

According to the Digital News Report: Australia 2021 released by the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra today, of the more than 2,000 adult news consumers surveyed, trust in news has rebounded to 43 per cent, five points higher than last year, but is well below the COVID-19 ‘trust bump’ of 53 per cent during the height of the pandemic.


Lead author of the report, Professor Sora Park, says “The improvement in trust likely reflects the public’s greater reliance on news in a crisis, and the active dissemination of official health advice by news outlets during the pandemic.

“However, the peak in trust associated with news reporting about COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic has not been transferred to news in general”.

According to the report, the high level of heavy news consumption during the early days of the pandemic (70 per cent) has also fallen to 51 per cent, four percentage points lower than pre-COVID. This decline in heavy consumption is also accompanied by a fall in interest.

The report also finds 66 per cent of Australians are unaware the news industry is financially worse off than ten years ago, and co-author of the report, Associate Professor Caroline Fisher says this is important because people who understand the difficulties facing the news industry are more likely to pay for news.

Dr Fisher says,“Despite the importance of credible news and information during the COVID-19 pandemic and early increases in consumption, the percentage of Australians paying for news has not increased.”

Only 13 per cent of Australian’s are paying for online news,  below the global average of 17 per cent, and the vast majority of the 83 per cent who are currently not paying say it is unlikely they will pay for news in the future.

The data reveals that more than half of Australians think the news media represent their views and community sufficiently and fairly, however, young women are the most dissatisfied.

A quarter of Gen Z women (26 per cent) think they are under-represented in the news compared to 11 per cent of Gen Z men.

Women, younger generations, regional Australians and those with low income and education are less likely to see themselves or their views as being fairly or sufficiently reflected in the news.

Other key findings include:

  • High interest in news has declined from 64 per cent in 2016 to 52 per cent in 2021.
  • Print has halved since 2016. Most Australians (80 per cent) say they have not read a newspaper or magazine in the past week.
  • 54 per cent of Gen Z say social media is their main source of news, up from 47 per cent in 2019, tripling among those aged 75 and over since 2019. Overall, 23 per cent of Australians mainly use social media for news. • 44 per cent oppose the government supporting commercial news organisations that are in financial difficulty.
  • Facebook for news (33 per cent) has gradually decreased since 2016 (45 per cent).
  • Australians prefer impartial news. 73 per cent agree news should present a range of views, 57 per cent agree news should always be neutral, while 28 per cent contend there is no point being neutral on some issues.
  • More than half of Australians say the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on their personal circumstances (57 per cent) which is much lower than the global average (74 per cent) and the lowest among all 46 countries surveyed.


Radio trails television, social media and online sources as the main source of news.




First published by RadioInfo. Read original here





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