Kaiser & Partners’ annual survey on media sentiment finds news consumption is up but many channels continue to suffer from reputation issues
TORONTO – November 1, 2021 – Coinciding with its 10th anniversary, Kaiser & Partners, Inc. (K&P) has released its second annual survey examining the changes in media consumption and trust in news sources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey strongly highlighted how the pandemic has changed Canadians’ relationship with news and information. While respondents indicated that they had returned to more traditional news sources, they remain skeptical of the credibility of those same outlets.
- The pandemic drove Canadians back to traditional news sources: 25 per cent of Canadians are watching more broadcast television news than prior to the pandemic
- Crowd-sourced news on social media and other platforms has taken the biggest hit in credibility: 73 per cent of Canadians say content from social media has become less credible as a result of the pandemic
- Canadian health agencies have gained trust, especially among older demographics: 59 per cent consider content from public health agencies to be more credible since the pandemic
- Public relations and marketing professionals have a role in preserving the authenticity of the media through the meaningful contribution of data and expert spokespeople
Canadians are consuming more news from established, traditional sources
According to the 2021 survey, one-in-four Canadians (25 per cent) are watching more broadcast television news than prior to the pandemic, followed by 22 per cent sharing that they are reading more online news from established daily newspapers or magazines than they were in 2019. Younger Canadians (18 to 34) reported the highest return to these established news media sources (28 per cent).
“We are all anecdotally aware that the pandemic has caused us to consume media differently, but we wanted to be able to dig deeper into the trends and what it meant for our industry and our clients,” said Janine Allen, president and partner, Kaiser & Partners. “It’s clear that when faced with a situation as personal and impactful as the pandemic, Canadians are still turning to established broadcast and online newspapers and magazines when they need the facts and information that matters.”
However, the pandemic has contributed to an erosion of trust and credibility in some news sources
Overall, 39 per cent of Canadians indicated that they consider some sources of information to be less credible today, compared to pre-pandemic. By far, the outlets taking the biggest hit are crowdsourced news platforms and social media. Content from social media in general is reported as the least credible (73 per cent of Canadians), followed by information conveyed by others in platforms such as Reddit and Quora (45 per cent).
By age, 78 per cent of Canadians aged 55 and older find social media less trustworthy as a result of the pandemic than those between the ages of 35 and 54 (74 per cent) and those between 18 and 34 (66 per cent).
“The pandemic, as well as recent political events and campaigns north and south of the border have influenced and re-shaped Canadians’ perception of social and crowd-sourced news content’s credibility,” continued Allen. “Social media platforms have a serious reputation problem and we continue to see drastic measures being taken to try to repair lost trust.”
While year-over-year, trust in the credibility of all news sources declined, there were some positive notes. Established news media (newspapers, online newspapers, broadcast news, radio) was regarded as the most credible source of information (55 per cent), followed by public health agencies (51 per cent) and government news (42 per cent).
Additionally, public health agencies seemingly gained reputation points with Canadians, with the recent survey showing that 59 per cent consider content from public health agencies to be more credible as a result of the pandemic.
Helping to build back trust in Canadian news
Public relations and all other marketing professionals have a key role in preserving the authenticity of the media through holding to the highest standards of truth and information, which includes the meaningful contribution of facts and expert spokespeople for news stories and online content.
“Reputation is currency in every aspect of this business,” added Allen. “As public relations and communications advisors, we must always hold ourselves to the highest standard of truth and information to allow our clients to share fact-based opinions and data-backed news with the public through the media. Our survey has shown us that it is still the go-to source of information for Canadians, and we believe that we have a duty to help preserve and not erode that trust.”
About Kaiser & Partners
In a complicated and constantly evolving world, clear and meaningful communications have never been more important. At Kaiser & Partners, we offer a full suite of strategic and integrated communications services with a particular emphasis on corporate, marketing and financial communications to provide strategic and integrated communications solutions that influence positive business outcomes. We pride ourselves on having a knowledgeable, dedicated and experienced team, with offices in Toronto and Montreal, complemented by a carefully selected network of partners across North America to provide best-in-class counsel and support on every engagement. We are big enough to provide high-quality strategic counsel and specialized services, but nimble enough to respond quickly and personally. Visit us at: www.kaiserpartners.com.
From September 17 to September 19 2021 an online survey of 1,509 randomly selected adult Canadians who are Maru Voice Canada panelists was executed by Maru/Blue . For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 3.4 % , 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted by education, age, gender and region to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.