Can we believe everything we read online?

Parliamentary scandals, rate-rigging banks, excessive bonus culture, police corruption, phone hacking – institutions we held in high public regard have all contributed to a lack of public trust. So, when it comes to our news, who do we believe?

A recent survey carried out by the BBC showed consumers trust ‘Auntie’ as their main news source significantly more than any other news outlet, with ITV, Sky, Channel 4 and the Guardian making up the top five. Whilst newspapers have spent years building up a loyal readership, broadcasters appear far more trusted in the eyes of the public and with phone hacking and the Leveson enquiry in the not-too-distant past, print journalists have a bad reputation in the eyes of the public.

The BBC is the most trusted source of news, followed by other broadcast media

The BBC is the most trusted source of news, followed by other broadcast media

And whilst The Daily Mail might have a stronghold on the world with its website counterpart the Mail Online, when asked to rate news providers, many would consider the Mail a less trustworthy news source than commercial radio, Google News and free newspaper The Metro.

Interestingly, Twitter, BuzzFeed and Vice also score higher than newspapers The Sun and The Daily Star in terms of trustworthy sources when ranked by consumers. The Star, Sun and Mail also scored low in measures of bias – making up the bottom three for consumers.

So what does this mean in the increasingly frantic world of traditional print vs new media? People may be directed to the news through social media or online sites like Buzzfeed and Vice, but their trusted sources tell them the detail and what they need to know.

When I worked on the web desk at one of the nationals, the speed of everything was frantic. “The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant – if you don’t get a picture of her on her wedding day as the lead story in the next two minutes you might as well forget it.” “There’s been a shooting in an American school – get the names of the children now or we’ll have missed the scoop.”

These days, news breaks on Twitter and other social media and media websites are at break-neck speed trying to catch up, whilst newspapers are relegated to in-depth comment and analysis pieces the next day looking into the background detail around the events.

Journalists are now working so quickly, chasing leads and writing pieces, quality suffers

Journalists are now working so quickly, chasing leads and writing pieces, quality suffers

Yet with everyone working so fast, standards also drop. Certain outlets are known to operate on a headline first, facts later basis – and the journalism suffers for it, with readers beginning to question the lack of evidence or feeling duped when they later read a correction. With a loss of sub-editors maintaining standards, what we read online is no longer as scrutinised before being published.

Journalists have to undertake training to understand the law, learn how to report certain situations and the ethics surrounding writing the news, but with blogs and social media challenging traditional news sites as a place to access breaking news, who is writing the news anymore? And are they bound by the same reporting restrictions? Does this give a new meaning to the freedom of the press, where anyone can report the news, or are we sacrificing details, analysis and scrutiny for the sake of a quick story?

Take the most recent super-injunction being discussed in the print press – though The Sun has been gagged from revealing the name of the celebrities involved, enough hints about the story has led to both parties being identified on social media. Whilst newspapers are bound by the legal implications of a super-injunction, many online don’t realise the rules surrounding revealing those involved, challenging the ethics and strict reporting rules journalists are bound by.

The Acceleris team has a range of diverse backgrounds – from traditionally trained journalists to new media, social media experts and content specialists. Our copywriters understand readers and how to establish trust and as media experts, we understand better than most the attitudes and behaviours of different readers and how best to target media for our clients.

The media is a changing sector and newspapers still aren’t quite sure how to adapt to the market – and with these latest figures showing broadcasters are way ahead of the game and social media and news sites are becoming increasingly influential, a rapid reform is needed to regain the trust of once loyal readers.

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