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June 24, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:27am

Five-year decline in UK news media trust sees BBC, Times and Telegraph have biggest drops

By Andrew Kersley

The Times, The Telegraph and the BBC have suffered the biggest drops in trust among UK news media over the past five years, according to one annual survey.

The Times was named the most trusted UK newspaper brand in 2018 but has since seen trust fall by 20 percentage points to 43%, according Press Gazette analysis of annual data from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

The BBC also saw a 20 percentage point drop in trust since 2018, although its fall from 75% to 55% still leaves it as the most trusted news brand in the UK, jointly with ITV News and just ahead of Channel 4 News on 54%.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Although we are never complacent, our own independent research shows that we saw a boost to perceptions of BBC News’ trustworthiness and impartiality during the pandemic, and BBC News is the source adults in the UK are most likely to turn to for impartial news on the biggest news stories of the day.”

Meanwhile, The Telegraph saw a 19 percentage point drop, from 55% of consumers saying they trusted its output in 2018 to 36% in 2022, as it maintained its position as the least trusted broadsheet in the UK.

A Telegraph spokesperson said the newspaper had "a record number of subscribers" who "value our quality, trusted and award-winning journalism". In May The Telegraph had 741,664 subscriptions across print and digital, including 576,835 online.

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The Times, which surpassed 400,000 digital subscribers earlier this year, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Telegraph was followed by tabloids The Sun, The Mail and The Mirror, which ranked bottom of the list of trusted major news brands in 2022.

Just 12% of the UK said they trusted the news output at Murdoch-owned The Sun, versus 67% who did not and 21% who weren't sure.

The analysis also shows a decline in trust rating across the board with The Guardian and Mail seeing slight improvements in their rankings (whilst still losing trust).

None of the news brands included in the analysis have seen an increase in trust since 2018, as overall trust in journalism in the UK fell to a record low of 34%.

While The Times was previously ranked as the most trusted broadsheet in the UK in 2018, that year did not include data for the Financial Times, which has held the title every year since.

Trust in the broadcast news media also declined over the past five years, but less drastically. Alongside BBC News, ITV News saw trust in its output drop by 17 percentage points since 2018 and Channel 4 News by 16 percentage points.

Sky News saw trust in its output decline from 62% to 45% over the last five years making it the least trusted established broadcaster in the UK for news (upstarts GB News and TalkTV have not yet been included in multiple years of Reuters Institute polling).

Regional and local news providers have seen a less steep decline in trust, falling from 65% in 2018 to 52% in 2022.

The trust data was sourced from five years of the Reuters Institute's annual Digital News Report, which has rated UK news brands by trustworthiness since 2018.

UK residents were asked to give a 1-10 trustworthiness rating for the UK news brands they had heard of. Those who answered 6-10 were deemed to trust the brand, with 0-4 not trusting it and 5 being uncertain. The 2022 survey was based on a poll of 2,410 people conducted in February 2022, with similar surveys conducted each year.

Overall, the Reuters Institute report this year found that in part due to a decline in trust, nearly half (46%) of all British people often avoid reading the news at all.

It also found that more than half of those (53%) who said they did not trust the BBC's output voted Conservative in the last election.

Picture: Press Gazette

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