Regional press topples BBC in trust survey

Views of trust from NS survey

Local papers are now more trusted by the public than the BBC according to a major survey carried out in the wake of the Hutton report.

When asked which media they consider to be particularly trustworthy, some 20 per cent of the public said any regional newspaper, ahead of BBC TV on 19 per cent, Teletext on 12 per cent and national daily newspapers on 11 per cent.

Some 1,515 people were interviewed face-to-face between March and May for the survey which was commissioned by local newspapers trade body the Newspaper Society.

The results compare with a different pre-Hutton survey conducted by YouGov in February/March 2003 which found BBC journalists well ahead of the local press when it came to trust.

That survey found that 81 per cent of people questioned trusted BBC news journalists to tell the truth a “a great deal” or “fair amount” compared with local paper journalists who polled 60 per cent.

Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell said: “It shows that national newspapers may have something to learn about developing the trust of their audience.

“It is difficult because all the media upsets some people some of the time.

Regional newspapers are by definition much closer to their audience and they have to build up a relationship of trust in order to achieve the high levels of audience penetration in their circulation areas.”

Regional press is seen as more trusted than BBC

Reassuringly for journalists, the survey found that news is the most popular section of local papers, with 58 per cent saying they always read it.

Next most popular in the “always read” category was TV listings on 28 per cent, followed by births, deaths and marriages (21 per cent), sport (21 per cent), jobs (19 per cent), leisure (17 per cent) and letters (14 per cent).

Just three per cent said they always read their local paper’s business coverage.

The BBC has traditionally been seen as the most trustworthy source of news by members of the public. But this latest survey suggests that trust may have been eroded since the controversy over the Gilligan affair and the Hutton report.

In January, BBC director general Greg Dyke and chairman of governors Gavyn Davies both resigned after Lord Hutton condemned the Corporation’s reporting of claims the Government misled the public over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

By Dominic Ponsford

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