Left-wing voters lead collapse in trust in media

Research highlights growing fears that UK news outlets are ‘pushing or suppressing agendas’

(Image credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The public’s trust in the UK media has fallen dramatically during the past five years, especially among left-wing voters, new research has found.

Just 15% of left-leaning voters say they trust most news most of the time, down from 46% as recently as 2015, according to the latest digital news report from Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

This compares with 36% of right-leaning voters, among whom trust levels have fallen from 58%.

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The rapid decline has come amid “enormous growth of social media audiences, rounds of cuts at almost every major news outlet, and strong criticism of media coverage of issues such as Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party”, says The Guardian.

“Britain now ranks below the likes of the US and Hong Kong when it comes to public trust in the media,” the newspaper adds.

“Even the most trusted brands like the BBC are seen by many as pushing or suppressing agendas, especially over polarising issues like Brexit,” the report’s authors say. “Trust in the news has fallen over 20 percentage points since 2015.”

A “silent majority” of Britons strongly want the news to be presented in a “neutral and detached” manner, they continue.

The study also found that photo-sharing app Instagram is set to overtake Twitter as a news source, the BBC reports.

Use of Instagram for news has doubled since 2018, with a quarter of people aged between 18 and 24 using the platform to get updates about the Covid-19 coronavirus.

However, the researchers also found that “social media platforms were also among the least-trusted sources” of news, the broadcaster notes.

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Which UK media publications have the widest reach? (% weekly usage)

  1. BBC - 45%
  2. The Guardian - 18%
  3. MailOnline - 15%
  4. Sky News - 10%
  5. Local or regional news website - 9%
  6. The Telegraph - 7%
  7. HuffPost - 6%
  8. The Independent/i100 - 6%
  9. Buzzfeed - 6%
  10. The Sun - 6%
  11. Yahoo News - 6%
  12. MSN News - 6%
  13. Metro - 5%
  14. Daily Mirror - 4%
  15. Lad Bible - 4%
  16. The Times - 4%

(Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020)

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