NZers more trusting in news outlets than other countries - survey

6:26 pm on 23 April 2020

A new report finds New Zealanders have a relatively high trust in news compared to other developed countries, despite "strong concerns" about poor journalism in this country.

No caption

Photo: RNZ/123RF

Auckland University of Technology's Journalism, Media and Democracy research centre published its first 'Trust in News in New Zealand' report today.

The study found 53 percent of the 1200 Kiwis surveyed agreed they can trust news 'most of the time', compared to 40 percent of people in the UK, 38 percent in Australia, and 32 percent in the USA.

Despite relatively high levels of trust, the report found Kiwis are "strongly concerned" by poor journalism, such as factual mistakes, dumbed-down stories and misleading headlines/clickbait, facts being spun to push certain agendas, and commercial and political messages dressed up as news.

The study also found New Zealanders are worried about the use of the term 'fake news', with 86 percent of respondents concerned it is used by politicians and others to discredit news sources they did not like.

Trust in news consumed through social media and search engines is low compared to other countries, with 27 percent of New Zealanders reporting they trust news found via search engines and 16 percent trusting news in social media.

Respondents were also asked to rate the trustworthiness of New Zealand news outlets on a scale of 0 (not trustworthy at all) to 10 (completely trustworthy).

RNZ was rated most trustworthy with a rating of 7, followed by TVNZ with a rating of 6.8 and Newshub with 6.6.

This follows international trends where public broadcasters tend to have higher trust scores than digital outlets as they have a longer track record, according to the report.

The study was produced in collaboration with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and is the first with internationally comparable data of the trust in news in New Zealand.

Authors Dr Merja Myllylahti and Dr Greg Treadwell say the survey was conducted between 23 and 30 March this year when the Covid-19 pandemic had spread to New Zealand but people were not asked to comment on news in light of the pandemic.

"Therefore, it is difficult to say how Covid-19 may have affected our findings."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs