With so much bias and political slant in the news (even when the media claims to be unbiased), and with so many news outlets to choose from, it can be hard to know which one to trust. It seems that most people have a go-to news station or website they get their news from, but the reason they started watching one news station over another or reading articles from one website over another, really comes down to a foundation of trust.
According to a new study conducted by The Media Insight Project, accuracy is the number one reason people choose to trust and rely on news sources. Eight-five percent of Americans rated it as extremely or very important that news sources get their facts right.
Second in importance, according to this survey, is timeliness. Seventy-six percent of adults surveyed cited it as very important that the news reports they read be up-to-date with the latest facts and figures. Timeliness is becoming increasingly important to consumers in the digital age, where a decent internet connection and the click of a mouse or tap of a screen are all people need to access news instantly.
It was also important to a majority (72 percent) of the study’s participants that news sources be concise. In today’s age, people are constantly on the go. No one has time to read a long, loquacious news article when they can get the same information from an article that gets to the point.
The Media Insight report further investigated the difference between readers’ expectations for print news vs. online news. It appears that online news sources need to gain an audience’s trust in slightly different ways.
Says Trevor Tompson, director of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research:
“People have sophisticated filters for determining who to trust when consuming news. Accuracy, timeliness, and clarity are the most important factors, and in the digital age there are new factors that publishers need to worry about. If ads interfere with a consumer getting their news, that could erode trust in the source.”
So, what are the three important trust factors for online news? Sixty-three percent of those surveyed by the Media Insight Project cited the importance of ads that don’t interfere with the news. Another 63 percent of people said a website’s loading speed is a crucial factor, and 60 percent of respondents said it was very important that online news content is mobile-friendly.
Additionally, people who get news from social media networks tend to be much more skeptical of its accuracy, as the study revealed that only 12 percent of people surveyed trusted the news they got from Facebook and 23 percent trusted news from LinkedIn.
It remains to be seen if the results of this survey will have any long-term consequences as far as news sources making changes to increase their viewership. For now, though, the research offers an insightful and interesting look into the motivations behind people’s media-consuming behaviors.