The covid-19 pandemic has boosted public confidence in the general media and has accelerated the digitization of the press around the world, according to a report by the Reuters institute published on Tuesday (22).
Brazilians, however, are among those who are most concerned about misinformation.
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According to the 10th report on digital information, confidence in information has increased by an average of 6 points since the beginning of the pandemic, reaching 44%.
This result is based on a series of surveys conducted by the company YouGov in 46 countries (with more than 92,000 respondents in total), which represent more than half of the world’s population.
Finland, with 65%, continues to have the highest confidence index, while in the United States, only 29% of its inhabitants say they trust the media. In Brazil, this rate is 54%.
According to Nic Newman, lead author of the report, two factors linked to the crisis may explain this growth in confidence: a greater importance of “factual information” and local media, leaving aside “more partisan political information”.
“This effect may only be temporary, but in almost every country we’ve found that the public prioritizes reliable sources,” adds Newman in the study.
– Increase in digital signatures –
This move has especially benefited the “strong and independent” public service media in countries like France, notes the Reuters Institute for Journalism Studies, which is part of Oxford University.
The study also confirms the serious difficulties of the written press, caused or aggravated by the health crisis, due to restrictions on travel, which reduced the sale of newspapers and advertising revenues.
This has accelerated the transition to digital subscriptions, particularly in countries where paper newspaper sales are traditionally higher, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
In the 20 countries where newspapers are actively trying to increase their digital sales, 17% of respondents said they paid for information online two points more than in 2020 and five more than in 2016.
The most significant increase in internet subscriptions was registered in rich countries, where those for paper vehicles are historically higher, such as Norway (45% of respondents pay for digital information) and Sweden (30%).
In the United States, the rate is 21%, higher than the 11% in France, 9% in Germany and 8% in the United Kingdom.
“The signatures [digitais] are starting to work for some publishers, but it won’t work for all and above all for all consumers,” as many are unwilling to pay, warns Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, co-author of the report.
– Misinformation –
At the same time, trust in news shared on social media remains very low (24%).
And public concern with misinformation has increased slightly, but it varies a lot from country to country: it reaches 82% in Brazil, while in Germany it is 37%.
Among other results, the overwhelming majority of respondents (74%) believe that the press should be impartial and 72% even think that it should give equal time to different sides on political and social issues.
The report also reveals that in several countries, such as the United States, some sectors of the public (youth, ethnic minorities, certain political currents) consider themselves underrepresented in the media.
The study also shows a discontent among young people with traditional information sites, in favor of social networks, news aggregators and notifications.
The Reuters institute highlights that Facebook lost space as a source of information last year, unlike WhatsApp and Instagram (which belong to the same group), TikTok and Telegram.
Messaging apps like WhatsApp, however, are a source of concern about false information about coronavirus in much of the global south, including Brazil, Indonesia, India, Nigeria and South Africa.
News exchange on TikTok, a platform dedicated to entertainment in its origins, developed with the coronavirus crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The report highlights that the short video app is also used by young people as a means of mobilization in Peru, Indonesia and Thailand.
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