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People Who Use Media Also Trust Them – But Not Unconditionally

People Who Use Media Also Trust Them – But Not Unconditionally

"Trust in Established News Sources": A special analysis of data from the Reuters Institute Digital News Survey with findings published as a report and in three short videos

Hamburg, 26 March 2024. In Germany, trust in established news sources can best be explained by age: Older internet users tend to place more trust in the news than younger ones. There are also differences regarding political orientation. Respondents who classify their political orientation as right-wing or conservative are generally more skeptical of the news than those who classify themselves on the extreme left or in the political center. In addition, a higher level of formal education tends to go hand in hand with greater trust in the news. As expected, those who use specific news brands also trust them, but not unconditionally. Those who have not used news within a week or have only received it on social media have the least trust. These are the findings of a special analysis of data from the Reuters Institute Digital News Survey 2023 conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research in Hamburg. The findings are available in three short videos and as a working paper.

In 2023, 43% of adult internet users in Germany believed that most of the news in Germany can be trusted - fewer than ever before.
Compared to the other 45 countries participating in the Reuters Institute Digital News Survey, Germany ranks 14th. Although this means that news trust in Germany is at a comparatively high level, it has been falling since 2015. Trust in the news that respondents use shows a more stable trend in the long term; only in recent years have there been slight losses here as well.
Overall, however, the individual factors of age, gender, formal education, and political orientation only have a very small influence on general news trust. In addition, the correlations found regarding "trust in news in general" and "trust in the news used" hardly differ.

A comparison between Germany, Finland, Italy, Greece, and the USA - five countries with different levels of news trust and different media systems - shows that news trust increased almost everywhere in the year of the coronavirus pandemic 2021. However, this increase in trust was only consolidated in subsequent years in Finland, which also had the highest level of news trust among the 46 Reuters countries in 2023.

Information on the Study "Trust in Established News Sources"

How do people inform themselves and what are the prerequisites for the formation of social opinion and decision-making processes? The project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), examines the correlations between the news sources used and the trust placed in news. The data for the analysis comes from the Reuters Institute Digital News Survey, a comprehensive survey that - coordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in Oxford - has been conducted in 46 countries since 2012. The Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) has been responsible for the German part of the study as a cooperation partner since 2013; it is supported by the state media authorities and ZDF.
Study Available for Download
Behre, Julia; Möller, Judith; Hölig, Sascha (2024): Vertrauen in etablierte Nachrichtenquellen. Eine Studie basierend auf dem Reuters Institute Digital News Survey [Trust in Established News Sources. A Study Based on the Reuters Institute Digital News Survey]. Hamburg: Verlag Hans-Bredow-Institut, March 2024 (Working Papers of the Hans-Bredow-Institut | Project Results No. 71), DOI: https://doi.org/10.21241/ssoar.93328, ISBN 978-3-87296-185-3 (Open Access, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License CC BY 4.0).
The issues of the series "Working Papers of the Hans-Bredow-Institut" can be downloaded from the Institute's website at https://leibniz-hbi.de/en/publications/working_papers.
Three short videos with the core findings of the study can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZSH7kxkJhP19Kynp0CcOoqmVLelUeY_M.
The Authors
Julia Behre, M.A., is a Junior Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) in Hamburg, Prof. Dr. Judith Möller holds the joint professorship for empirical communication research at Universität Hamburg and the HBI, Dr. Sascha Hölig is a Senior Researcher at the HBI.
Julia Behre, j.behre@leibniz-hbi.de
Information on the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
The Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut researches media change and the associated structural changes in public communication. Cross-media, interdisciplinary and independent, it combines basic science and transfer research and thus creates problem-relevant knowledge for politics, commerce, and civil society. The institute was accepted into the Leibniz Association in 2019. More at https://leibniz-hbi.de/en.


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