11 September, 2020
In April, YouGov polling showed that trust in the media is declining. It’s never been very high, but in the early days of lockdown when more of us were at home glued to the news channels, the number of UK consumers who said they could not rely on news rose from 35% to 46%.
In June, Digital News Report found that only 28% of people in the UK said they trusted the news. And then in August, another YouGov poll reported that over 50% of people think the British press is a ‘force for bad’.
Looking back at the April survey, it’s interesting to note that 72% of respondents said they were ‘fed up’ with news programming and over half (55%) said it was too negative.
Being fed up with the events being reported is not the same as being fed up with the media reporting on them. (Don’t shoot the messenger.) However, a scan of the headlines can often feel depressing and hopeless. We see the occasional uplifting feature, but this is usually an ‘and finally’, rarely a top story.
Some outlets are different, of course. Our current favourite is Positive News, which describes itself as ‘constructive journalism – rigorous and relevant journalism that is focused on progress, possibility and solutions’. As one reader said, it’s about inspiring change, not driving fear.
It was good to read video producer John Domokos in the Guardian earlier this week, too, talking about new approaches in TV news formats, with reporters working with communities, involving people more in the stories that are told and winning back trust.
If we may make a wish as we celebrate our 20th birthday this month, it is that the fragile media landscape does not crumble – we need great journalism now more than ever – but that it grows stronger and promotes a more humane and hopeful narrative.