Confidence in the media strengthened after the health crisis, according to a study

A large majority of the population reaffirms its confidence in the traditional media after 18 months of pandemic, according to a study carried out by Viavoice for the Assises du journalisme and of which France Médias Monde is a partner.

Have the Covid-19 pandemic and its share of “fake news”  strengthened the confidence of the French in the traditional media? This is in any case what seems to indicate a study by the polling institute Viavoice for the International Assises of Journalism in Tours, carried out in partnership with France Télévisions, France Médias Monde, Le Journal du dimanche and Radio France.

According to this sixth barometer carried out on a sample of 1,000 people representative of the French population, 78% of those questioned say they trust the information found in the media, an increase of 9 points compared to February 2020. In addition, 89% of French people consider journalism to be “useful”.

“The context of emerging from the health crisis makes the institution of journalism essential in the eyes of the French because it is perceived as a carrier of solutions”, specifies Stewart Chau, co-author of the study, joined by France 24. “We also note that there is an increased demand for professional and verified information. ”

Contrary to popular belief, the traditional media, whose image suffered during the coverage of the yellow vests social movement, appears to be a bulwark against disinformation and conspiracy theories.

Indeed, the study reveals that mistrust is growing within the French population towards information relayed by social networks or those around them. The claim that “today there are more and more rumors or false information on the Internet and social networks” garners 88% approval, gaining 7 points since February 2020.

However, young people remain the most difficult to convince . Indeed, only 73% of 18-24 year-olds prefer information found in newspapers, radio or television news, while 87% of those over 65 years of age.

No mistrust but “a very strong requirement”

Other good news from this barometer on the usefulness of journalists, 81% of French people believe that journalism is essential in a democratic society, which is again 8 points more than before the health crisis.

“The assertion of journalism and professional media reveals the attachment of the French to the idea of ​​journalism at the heart of democratic debate”, explain the authors of the study.

“There is no expressed mistrust of journalists, rather a very strong demand given the influence of the media on citizens”, notes Stewart Chau, according to whom the French now expect “a journalism of solutions”, in particular on the environmental issue.

“In these times of health and climate crises, the population is looking for information that can provide solutions,” he explains. “Today, the French no longer wait to be made aware of global warming. We have moved on to a new stage in which information must become a tool to enable citizens to act in their everyday lives. . ”

A surge of confidence in the media is a more unexpected effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the 10th report on digital information from the Reuters Institute , published on Wednesday, confidence in information has increased by an average of 6 points since the start of the health crisis, to reach 44%. A result based on a series of surveys carried out by the company YouGov in 46 countries (more than 92,000 respondents in total), which represent more than half of the world’s population.

Confidence remains highest in Finland (65%) while the United States falls at the bottom of the ranking: only 29% of its inhabitants say they trust the media. France does little better (30%) and shares the penultimate place with Slovakia and Hungary. But the level of confidence, which had been greatly damaged following the yellow vests crisis , has risen by 7 points this year.

Rise in digital subscriptions

According to Nic Newman, lead author of the report, this renewed confidence can be explained by two factors linked to the crisis: it has given increased importance to “factual information” and local media, while chasing “news”. more partisan politics ” . “This effect might be only temporary, but in almost all countries we observe that the public gives the first to reliable sources,” he adds in the study.

This has notably benefited “strong and independent” public service media in countries like France, observes the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which is part of the University of Oxford. At the same time, the study confirms the serious difficulties of the written press, triggered or aggravated by the health crisis, due to the drop in travel (which reduced newspaper sales) and the simultaneous collapse of the advertising market.

The pandemic and the various restrictions accompanying it are also accelerating the transition to digital subscriptions, especially in countries where sales of paper dailies are traditionally very high, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

 

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