Do people in the UK trust the media?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
December 16, 2019, 12:41 PM GMT+0

YouGov figures show British trust in the press to tell the truth has fallen, with less than half believing BBC news journalists are honest and impartial

As the BBC responds to claims of bias following its coverage of the general election, YouGov polling reveals that faith in BBC News journalists to tell the truth has dropped, but the trend is not unique to the broadcaster, with trust in journalists falling across the board.

Less than half of Britons (44%) now say they trust the institution to tell the truth despite its public charter to remain politically neutral. This is a fall of seven percentage points since October.

Half of Britons who backed the Conservative Party in 2017 (53%) say they don’t fully trust BBC News journalists to tell the truth, compared to 49% and 33% of 2017 Labour and Lib Dem voters respectively.

Among those who voted to leave the European Union, only two in five (40%) say they trust the broadcaster, compared to 54% of remain voters. Class also plays a part in trusting the BBC, just 37% of C2DE adults trust BBC News to tell the truth compared to 49% of ABC1 adults.

YouGov also compared “up-market newspapers” like The Times and The Guardian, with mid-market papers such as The Daily Mail and the Express, and tabloids like The Sun and The Mirror, and revealed that UK adults have also lost trust in newspaper journalists since the general election began.

Britons are most likely to trust journalists working for the likes of The Times and The Guardian to tell the truth – overall a third (34%) of Britons say they trust these newspapers, but this is still down four percentage points from 38% in mid-October.

Britons see the tabloid press as the least trustworthy, with half (51%) now saying they wouldn’t trust the newspapers in this bracket to tell the truth at all, and another third (34%) saying they wouldn’t trust the paper much, for a total of 85% of UK adults who don’t fully trust the tabloids.

Looking across party lines, trust of newspapers has also broadly fallen, however levels of trust among those who backed the Liberal Democrats at the last election have plummeted despite this group having the most trust in the BBC. For upmarket newspapers, the number of 2017 Lib Dem voters who say they either don’t trust the newspapers to tell the truth at all or much has risen nearly 20 percentage points from 35%, to 54%.

For mid-market papers like the Mail, 92% of previous Lib Dem voters now say they don’t trust the papers to tell the truth to some extent, compared to 74% of 2017 conservative voters who say the same – of those same conservative voters, 23% say they are likely to trust mid-market papers, compared to just 8% of those who backed Labour and 7% of those who backed the Lib Dems.

As for the tabloids, distrust from Lib Dem and Labour voters has risen four percentage points since October, with 96% and 88% respectively now saying they wouldn’t trust these newspapers to tell the truth to some degree.

Image: PA

See full results here

Explore more data & articles