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Trust in newspapers and the mass media in general is declining.

Some attribute this to partisan and fake news outlets which have flourished on Facebook and a social media service which does its best to pander to your preexisting biases. While others attribute the shift to lower journalistic standards becuase of diminishing digital advertising revenues.

Either way you look at it, you're less likely to trust what is written on webpages from major outlets than you were a decade ago.

As the Reuters Institute's Digital News Report 2016found, people trust news brands, but less so than in previous years.

The report states:

Journalists carry a particularly low reputation in many countries such as the UK where there is a strong and vigorous tabloid press.

Although headline trust levels are quite low, a wide range of research including our own in 2015 has shown that trust is much higher in sources that people actually use.

The below chart by Statista, shows the extent to which a selection of countries said they trusted the news:

A recent survey of 1,578 British adults by YouGov for Impress produced discouraging results when it came to trusted occupations.

Ed Williams, CEO of Edelman UK & Ireland wrote in an essay contained within the report:

It is a simple evil for us all if people do not trust what they read or hear or see. Any examination of political rhetoric shows how facts have been subsumed into the same calculations of value as opinion; balance in arguments is harder and harder to achieve and public discourse becomes shallower and more partisan, whether held in legislatures or on Twitter. 

So, in that context, it certainly matters that an increasingly large group of people are cynical about what they read, and that is particularly important when it comes to critical public issues such as the UK’s referendum on its membership of the EU. More simply, it is also a matter of commercial survival for the media companies in question. The Trust Barometer makes it very clear every year that, when people trust a company, they buy their products, they pay a higher price over comparable products, and they recommend them to friends.

However he also concedes that news has been commodified as a sort of 'infotainment'.

It’s probably just as likely to be true that many people no longer visit media outlets to get ‘trusted’ information. They go for fun. Or outrage. Qualitative research based on the Trust Barometer findings shows that people are likely to rate trustworthiness much lower as a reason for loyalty to a news source than how ‘informative’ – for which read gossipy – or whether or not the source is free.

In short it matters less to you how informative we are or how accurate we are - what matters more is how much we capture your attention.

So here's a picture of a puppy. You're welcome.

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