Online News A Matter of Trust

The Guardian’s blogger Leigh Holmwood caught my eye with this piece today about trust.

It tells how a new survey by YouGov shows more people now claim to trust online news that traditional newspapers – with accuracy a key factor.

Now this poses something of a problem for news gatherers as well as the papers themselves, given that reporters are told to be cautious about using the Internet as a source of information.

Too many bogus claims are made online, sites not checking their facts and so on.

So the trust issue will be a surprise to some.

And why it must be crystal clear to those fresh into the game – if it isn’t already – to check the detail, get a second source and be damn sure the story is correct.

Yet it isn’t , I suspect, the standard of stories and reporting in the mainstream Press that has developed these trust issues with a once adoring public.

Not accuracy in terms of what was written.

But accuracy involving time.

Do people really now see papers outdated within a few hours as having abused trust?

Probably not.

Yet they may no longer be the most reliable (ie up to date) information available.

Which begs another question.

Are we now witnessing a world where people will ‘trust’ online news more than papers simply because it is up to date, in the way that TV and Radio can break the latest development?

Take today’s story that missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews had been found alive and well.

Not only did the news sweep our office, but prompted a spate of text messages to a from friends to see if they had “heard the news”.

Followed by outrage at newspapers for not giving her case as much coverage as Madeline McCann – despite the fact there really being no similarities between the two.

That somehow newspapers had failed them on two counts – content and provision.

Newspapers have already suffered once before, massively, as TV moved in to steal their thunder.

Now it could be argued that the web looks like doing the same, eroding their position even further.

Or does it?

Because the dogs already kicked once are maybe biting back.

Having learned their lessons from before, many newspaper groups are investing hugely online at a time when spending is never encouraged.

So why?

By protecting their share of the marketplace, they now have a chance not only to survive, but hit back at those who put them on the back foot before.

Look at Telegraph TV as one example.

A newspaper with – essentially – its own TV station.

Then wonder about this piece from Brand Republic which reveals more people now surf the net in a year than watch TV.

It claims the average user will spend 41 days online a year compared with 37 watching TV.

Last year it was reported that internet advertising had outstripped newspaper advertising and now commanded a figure total to half that for traditional TV stations which saw their share fall almost 5%.

Are we really witness the death of newspapers and broadcasters as some predict.

Or the steady march to media monoliths where only the brave and the bold can survive – a mixture of online TV, newspapers and web – all under one roof?



Categories: Blogs, Media philosophy & trends

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