Trust in the Dutch media remains high, except among young people. This is evident from the annual Digital News Report of the Media Authority. Together with the international Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, the Commissariat asked more than 2,000 people about their news use at the beginning of this year.
Among young people up to the age of 24, 40 percent say they trust the news, a decrease of 16 percentage points compared to 2018. The news that respondents themselves follow is trusted by 52 percent of young people, a decrease of 15 percentage points compared to four years ago . The increasing distrust among young people “worries us,” said researcher Irene Costera Meijer in an explanation of the report on Wednesday. Confidence remained virtually the same among other age groups.
Young people use the internet and social media much more often as a source of news than the older target groups. Social media in particular is experienced as unreliable – in all age groups. By 2021, 9 out of 10 young people will use social media for news, compared to less than half in the oldest target group. Two thirds of the youngest target group cite online news and social media as the main source of news. In the oldest group this is only more than 20 percent. When it comes to the use of television news and print as the main news media, the proportions are reversed.
According to the report, the ‘basic attitude’ with which young people and the elderly approach the news differs widely. Trust is the basic attitude of older people, and most respondents from this group only start to doubt the reliability of news if their trust is damaged by personal experiences or if they notice that journalism does not meet their own quality requirements. Most young people by definition doubt the news. This doubt or ‘healthy mistrust’ is the basic attitude with which young people approach the news, according to the Commissariaat. “This group grew up with social media and also with a certain media literacy. Namely: be critical of everything you come across online and doubt until the contrary is shown”, explains Costera Meijer.
In addition, young people are much more willing to pay for online news than older target groups. More than half of those surveyed up to the age of 24 indicate that they have paid or free for online news in the past year and are very likely to want to pay for online news in the future. This group of ‘potential payers’ falls to 13 percent in the oldest target group. As young people get older, the number of digital subscriptions will increase further, the Commissariaat predicts.
Misleading information about corona
Trust in news in the Netherlands has been one of the highest of the more than 40 countries surveyed for years. Confidence is highest in Finland. 65 percent trust most of the news. In the Netherlands, that percentage is 59 percent. Britons and Americans trust most of the news the least – 36 and 29 percent, respectively.
In addition to the high confidence in news, concerns about what is real or fake on the internet will increase significantly in 2021. This is where a clear effect of the pandemic can be seen, according to the report. 40 percent of respondents said they encountered false or misleading information about the coronavirus last week. No other subject gets more than 22 percent.
News use has hardly changed in the Netherlands in the last four years. Since 2017, 96 percent of Dutch people consult the news at least once a week. In 2021 this share will be 97 percent. However, during the corona period, the Commission has seen a clear increase in people who very often consult news in one day (6 times or more a day) – from 16 percent in 2020 to 22 percent in 2021.