An Echo Press Editorial: Newspapers are most trusted source of news
By the Echo Press Editorial Board
The media has long been a favorite punching bag.
But there’s good news about the industry, especially for newspapers. People are still turning to newspapers to get their news and they trust the information they’re getting. Also, newspaper readers are voters — voters who are hungry for professional integrity.
That’s according to a March survey of 1,000 adults from rural and urban communities across the U.S. conducted for the National Newspaper Association.
In monitoring current events and political updates, community newspapers continue to grow in trustworthiness (7.38 on a scale of 1 to 10) and newspaper readers are voters (96%).
Highlights from the survey:
Voting. There does, in fact, exist a strong correlation between those who read community newspapers and those who cast ballots in elections. A combined 96% of readers of local newspapers specifically (769 out of the 1,001 total sample), say they plan to vote this November – either “very” or “somewhat” likely.
Overall, 89% of the respondents said they are “very likely” to vote in upcoming elections this year for U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate and other federal and state elections, 6% said “somewhat likely” and 4% said “not at all likely.”
Trust. The study found local newspapers as the most “trusted” source (of all mediums tested) when it comes to learning about candidates for public office. On a 10-point scale (with 10 being the highest), local newspapers are rated a 7.38, higher than TV stations (6.45), radio (5.58), political mailings (4.63) or social media platforms (2.65).
This compares to 2019, when on the issue of trustworthiness, community newspapers represented a more trusted news source (5.77 on a 10-point scale) than other news sources, rating higher than national network TV news (5.13), cable TV news shows (4.60) and all others. Social media sources like Twitter or Facebook were rated lowest, at 2.92.
“It seems to us,” said Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling and Research, Inc., which did the survey for the NNA, “that voters are increasingly hungry for a higher level of professional integrity when it comes to journalism (both local and national) in today’s age of constant cable TV news and partisan leaning news media outlets.”
“Although the metrics and items in our list have changed from prior years, prior years also shows trust in community newspapers had consistently received higher mean scores than competitor sources,” Lee added. “Moreover, readers of community newspapers rate trust in their local papers at an even higher 7.83 on a 10-point scale.”
News habits. A combined 77% of respondents say they read a newspaper that covers their local community (a slight increase from a 65% average, 2017-2019), consumed via printed edition and online edition, as well as these additional online options that were not in previous surveys: Facebook, YouTube, TikTok or other social media platforms.
Newspapers, as a medium used either as a “primary” or secondary” source of information, has held steady over the years. In the current poll, a combined 24% say they rely on newspapers as either their primary or secondary source of information for news.
Local newspapers also continue to receive high metrics on things like “[it] informs me” (93% agree), “[it] provides valuable local shopping and advertising info (81% agree), and “my household relies on [it] for local news (83%).
The state of the first amendment. A combined 96% say it’s very or somewhat important to have reliability and truth in local journalism, including 83% who think it’s “very” important.
Advertising. Community newspapers continue to be the most-trusted information medium and the go-to source for shopping decisions. Of the respondents, 43% cited the local newspaper as their top resource for making shopping decisions.
The survey underscores the point that newspapers are still highly relevant and are a trusted source for news with a bright future ahead.