With bias and inaccuracy more pernicious than ever, executives are reaffirming their trust in well-established news brands.
What do decision-makers look for when they’re consuming news and information? Increasingly, it’s the reliability imparted by familiar news brands. Social media is declining in its value as a news source, and there seems to be a renewed desire for coverage that offers a wide perspective and challenges a news consumer’s perceptions.
Those are among the findings of the Tomorrow’s News survey, which polled 1,587 global executives on how and where they look for news information. The survey’s findings show executives to be a demographic that looks to news coverage for view-expanding information, seeks impartiality and trustworthiness in the coverage it consumes and has high expectations of platforms and advertisers, especially when it comes to distasteful content and controlling “fake news.”
“It’s the third year in a row that we’ve had this report, so the trend data it gives us is very powerful,” said Munira Ibrahim, Thomson Reuters Senior Vice President for Sales and Content Solutions. “The fact that consumers hold brands accountable if they align themselves to media publishers that propagate fake news, to me, is very telling.”
A rediscovered reverence for trust
In the Tomorrow’s News survey, executives said they are turning to “trusted news brands” to verify news stories they find elsewhere. Forty-two percent of those who responded to the Tomorrow’s News survey said they “trust well-known news brands and always check the accuracy of shared news from other sources.” That compares to 39 percent of respondents who answered the same way in 2017 and 35 percent who answered the same in 2016. In addition, 83 percent said they “turn to online news brands to verify the source of a news story.” Only 12 percent said they did the same with social media as the verifying source.
Social media, fake news and ultimate responsibility
Only 24 percent of respondents said they trust the source of news stories that are shared on social media, down from 28 percent in 2017 and 32 percent in 2016. Also of note: 38 percent of respondents said they “actively share news with their network on social media.” That’s down from the 49 percent of respondents who said the same thing in 2017.
A full 85 percent of respondents said fake news “has made them doubt the reliability of news stories shared on social media.”
“What we’ve found in our research over the past three years is people are using multiple sources for their news, because fake news has made them skeptical of any one source” Ibrahim said. “Historically, the dynamic was ‘We’re being fed the news.’ Now, it’s ‘We are gathering the news.’ We’re more aware of where we’re getting our information.”
Respondents clearly indicated thinking technology platforms ought to do more to curb the dissemination of fake news: 87 percent reported agreeing that “Facebook and Google should do more to control fake news or inappropriate content on their platforms,” and 81 percent said they thought Facebook and Google should be held accountable for the content they carry on their platforms.
Breaking the bubble
Although filters and personalized news pages are so widespread they’re the norm, rather than the exception, executives who responded to the Tomorrow’s News survey said they wanted be exposed to news content that challenged their own worldviews.
Ninety percent of respondents said they felt “people can only have an informed opinion if they are exposed to content they both agree and disagree with.” Eighty-eight percent said they preferred to see balanced content “they like and dislike, rather than targeted content solely based on their preferences.”
Implications for advertising: Location, location, location
The value of a trusted news brand extends beyond readership.
Sixty-six percent of respondents said they would be more likely to notice an advertiser if it appears on a “trusted news site,” and 64 percent said they would be “more likely to respond” to an ad that appeared there.
When it comes to an ad placement, the executives who responded to the Tomorrow’s News survey indicated they thought very little of brands being advertised too close to lewd content.
- 75 percent said they had seen brands advertised “alongside unsavory or objectionable stories or videos.”
- 77 percent agreed that seeing advertising next to “unsavory, objectionable stories or videos” can damage the perception of the brand being advertised.
- 62 percent of respondents said they thought “brands have full control over where their advertising appears.”
Read the Tomorrow’s News survey in its entirety.