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Public trust in media maintained: YouGov

Posted on: April 30, 2020 by Ian Murray

Public trust in the media is being maintained during the Covid-19 crisis, a YouGov poll reports.

And in a separate survey by MORI, the public believe the media are doing a better job than the opposition in holding the government to account.

The YouGov poll made in association with Southampton University, found that claims that public trust in the media had collapsed were not true.

However, the polling found that there was an emergence of a partisan divide along political lines over where trust lies.

“In YouGov’s latest poll, conducted on 26th and 27th April, 47% of people expressed trust in BBC News journalists to tell the truth,” said the survey.

“This number is actually up slightly from when the question was asked during the election campaign in December last year (44%) and just a point below where it stood in March before the government announced a shutdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak (48%). Trust in journalists for ITV and ‘upmarket’ newspapers has similarly been stable over the past six months.

“There simply has been no collapse in public trust in news media during the coronavirus outbreak,” reports the poll.

“This isn’t to say that the recent polling on trust hasn’t provided some interesting insights. For example, a recent YouGov poll for Sky News revealed much higher levels of public trust on coronavirus for the PM and Health Secretary compared to TV journalists and newspapers. Of course, trust in the NHS far outstripped everyone else as usual.

“But rather than being because of a drop in trust in journalists, this is mainly caused by a rise in support for leading political figures. In the YouGov trust tracker, politicians and government usually fare badly.”

The report added that its findings were that the public trust mid-market and tabloid journalists less than other media.

“One notable feature of recent polling is emergence of a partisan divide that has sharpened during the coronavirus crisis.

“Traditionally Conservative voters have tended to be more trusting of upmarket newspapers, but this is no longer the case – with 46% of Labour voters saying they trust journalists from these papers, but just 29% of Conservative voters saying so (a nine-point swing on the partisan balance of opinion from December).

“Whether these partisan divides remain after the crisis is over, or fade away, remains to be seen.

“But there is no evidence to suggest that trust in media has collapsed or that its coverage of coronavirus has significantly altered peoples’ attitudes towards it.”

In its separate poll, Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,066 British adults aged 18-75 online between April 24th and 27th. It reported the British public consider journalists are doing a better job at holding the government to account over how it has responded to the coronavirus than the Labour Party and its leader. Most likely to be seen to do a good job are journalists at the Government’s Coronavirus daily briefings (43%), followed by TV and radio journalists (40%). 

“However, the numbers for Starmer and the Labour Party may reflect that Keir Starmer is still something of an unknown entity with the general public so far,” added the report.

Piers Morgan, co-presenter of ITV’s Good Morning Britain is seen as being an effective check on the Government power by 29% who think he is doing a good job while 24% disagree. However, 28% say they don’t know and 20% are neutral.

Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos MORI, said: “Despite recent controversy about journalists challenging government spokespeople, by 43% to 28% the public say they are doing a good job in holding the government to account.”

A further survey by the Reuters Institute found that the media lagged behind the NHS and the government in public trust during the crisis.

The survey found:

  • More than one-third (37%) think that the news media is doing a good job of responding to coronavirus. This is higher than the equivalent figure for technology companies (15%) but lower than the figure for the NHS (92%) and the UK government (54%).

  • Most people (60%) think that the BBC is doing a good job, and TV outlets like ITV (36%) Channel 4 (32%), and Sky (28%) get a higher proportion of positive evaluations than many newspapers. Most, but not all, major UK news outlets have net positive ratings.