How much do we trust journalists?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
March 26, 2020, 11:15 AM UTC

Trust in broadsheet newspaper journalists has hit a six-year high since the 2019 general election, YouGov research shows, but Britons remain sceptical of other papers

YouGov research shows that trust in the press took a knock during the 2019 general election, but as concerned Britons turn to the media for vital news and advice on the spread of coronavirus, are things improving?

YouGov tracking reveals that trust in newspapers is polarised, with upmarket newspapers such as The Times and The Telegraph seeing a six-percentage point increase since December 2019 but other papers doing less well. Two fifths (40%) of Britons say they trust journalists at broadsheet publications to tell the truth, the highest percentage of overall trust since November 2014.

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While distrust of these publications remains higher than trust, the gap has narrowed again, with overall distrust falling 5% compared to December 2019 to 52%.

However, mid-market papers like the Daily Mail and red-top tabloids like The Sun continue to lose the trust of the British public. Distrust rose four percentage points for the mid-market papers compared to October 2019, rising to 78%, and for the red-tops a rise of three percentage points to 87%.

Among voters, distrust of journalists at upmarket newspapers has fallen across all three major political parties, with Liberal Democrat voters now more likely to trust journalists at these publications to tell the truth (55%) than not trust them (43%).

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Labour voters are split over whether to trust upmarket newspaper journalists, with 47% trusting them to some extent, compared to the 48% who distrust them. Conservative voters remain the most sceptical with 55% distrusting and 38% trusting this type of publication.

For mid-market papers, distrust among Labour and Conservative voters has remained the same level as during the election, but for Liberal Democrat voters has dropped 9 percentage points from 92% in December to 83% while distrust of these papers has remained unchanged from December for Labour and Conservative voters.

Distrust of the red-tops has increased among Labour voters, rising 5 percentage points since December 2019 to 93%, but has fallen 7 percentage points amongst Liberal Democrats to 90%.

The 2019 general election also saw a significant slip in trust of the BBC, with overall trust dropping seven percentage points in comparison to October 2019 with less than half the public (44%) trusting the public broadcaster in December 2019.

The latest figures show that trust has now swung slightly in the opposite direction, but Britons remain split over trusting the BBC.

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Overall 48% of Britons say they either trust the BBC a great deal or a fair amount, compared to 45% who don’t trust the broadcaster much, or at all.

Trust in the BBC has decreased among Brits who voted to leave the EU, falling four percentage points since December 2019, from 40% to 36% - meanwhile overall trust among Remainers has increased from 54% to 62%.

Image: Getty

See full results here