Canadians trust in talk radio, online news, social media down: poll

New research commissioned by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) finds Canadians trust in traditional news media is beginning to rebound, however that’s not the case when it comes to talk radio, online publications or social media.

Seven in 10 (72%) Canadians surveyed by Ipsos say they have confidence in traditional news media – such as TV and radio news, newspapers, and news magazines – when it comes to fully, accurately and fairly reporting. That’s up seven points from 2018, however Millennials (those aged 18-34) are much less trusting (60%) than Gen X’ers aged 35-54 (74%) or Boomers aged 55+ (79%).

Looking at news sources individually, trust in broadcast TV news is up two points over last year to 61%, print newspapers (58%, -1), news radio (54%, +3), news websites (52%, +1) and cable news (51%, unchanged). However, talk radio (42%, +2), online-only news publications (28%, -6), social media in general (14%, -3), and more specifically Facebook (11%, -3) and Twitter (10%, -2) are all less trusted with most online and social media channels declining in trust.

While Facebook was cited as one of the least-trusted sources for news, 47% of Canadians said they’ve gotten news from the platform in the past month, second only to broadcast TV. Six in 10 (59%) Millennials have used Facebook as a news source, followed by 50% of Gen X’ers and 36% of Boomers. Millennials are also most likely to have sought out news on social media, particularly Twitter.

Canadians Getting Better at Identifying Fake News

RTDNA says the rise of trust in traditional news sources may be explained by the study’s finding that Canadians believe they’re getting better at identifying fake news. Fewer Canadians (29%, down six points) agreed that they have no idea how to distinguish between real and fake news. The proportion of Canadians who have been taken in by a false news story (58%) is also down seven points from last year.

Eighty per cent agree (18% strongly/62% somewhat) that they are confident in their ability to distinguish between legitimate and fake news. The association says of concern is the finding that 28% of Canadians – statistically unchanged since last year – agree (4% strongly/24% somewhat) that if they disagree with a news story, it is likely false. Those without a high-school education (37%) are most likely to hold this position, while those with a university degree are least likely (21%).

Millennials See Traditional News as Becoming Less Relevant

Thirty-nine per cent of Canadians overall agree (9% strongly/30% somewhat) that traditional news sources are becoming less relevant to them, rising to 56% among Millennials. While 67% of Canadians agree (12% strongly/55% somewhat) that they regularly see news stories that matter to their community, this drops to just 59% of Millennials. Millennials are also more likely (50%) than the national average (38%) to believe Canadian news will increasingly be replaced by international news.

Encouraging to media organizations is the finding that 72% of Canadians agree the news industry in Canada is well-positioned to adapt to changing news consumption habits in Canada, however there is some skepticism as only 8% strongly agree. Again, just 63% of Millennials believe this to be case, well below Gen X’ers (72%) and Boomers (79%).

Canadians Reluctant to Pay for News 

Canadians remain reluctant to pay for news. Only four in 10 (41%) say they are willing to pay for news sources they trust, regardless of the content. Willingness to pay for local news (37%) or national news (36%) is slightly less, with international news (30%), deep-dive stories (30%), news radio (22%), and news aggregator services (21%) even further behind.

RTDNA says in short, the two major challenges for the news industry remain keeping younger Canadians engaged in a way meaningful and relevant to them; and figuring out a sustainable business model.

The Ipsos poll of 1,002 Canadian adults was conducted May 3-6, on behalf of the RTDNA. The poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


Subscribe Now – Free!

Broadcast Dialogue has been required reading in the Canadian broadcast media for 25 years. When you subscribe, you join a community of connected professionals from media and broadcast related sectors from across the country.

The Weekly Briefing from Broadcast Dialogue is delivered exclusively to subscribers by email every Thursday. It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.

Let’s get started right now.