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Media trust in a fake news world: 

how consumers are placing their trust back in the dial

What’s the deal with fake news, and is it really such a big issue?

We are living in an era where conversations around “fake news” and “alternative facts” are mainstays in the public dialogue. From Brexit to the US election, events worldwide are not just being reported by news outlets, they are shaping them. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but the prominence of the issue in a digital world where news can spread at a rate never seen before, is increasingly concerning. A recent study by GlobeScan found that almost 80% of people were worried about what is real and what is fake on the internet (based on 16.5k+ adults from across 18 countries).

With a juxtaposition been such high levels of interest in the news (88% stated they were interested/very interested in staying informed) and trust in the media at such a low ebb, people are starting to turn back to the dial for a reliable and safe news source. This is the context with which the Radiocentre’s conducted their recent study ‘Breaking News’.

Amongst several more obvious insights (there won’t be widespread surprise that radio was proved to be the most dominant source for news for people in their cars….) the report gleamed that radio was the most trusted source of news with 77% of respondents viewing it as the ‘most trusted medium’ – outperforming TV (74%), print newspapers (48%), online newspapers (45%) and finally and rather pointedly, social media with just 15%.

So why are people putting their trust in radio?

Since the birth of TV, people have talked about the death of radio; but despite the growth of streaming services, podcasts and on-demand TV, it’s in surprisingly robust health – in fact commercial radio hit a record 36 million weekly listeners in 2017 and over 26 million followers across social platforms.

Previous Radiocentre studies have shown the impact of radio as a much-loved channel, having the highest increasing on happiness and energy of any medium. This is due in no small part down to the affinity which listeners have with their favourite presenters, stations and brands, who are there for them through that traffic-ridden morning commute or Sunday afternoons cleaning the house.

However, this study draws upon the under-appreciated role of commercial radio as a wide reaching and trusted source of news. With 24 hour news channels and the endless stream of news via social platforms there are more ways than ever to stay informed – however, radio has carved out a role as an impartial and informative summarisation of news, fitting around it’s listeners’ lifestyles (79% agreeing that radio provides helpful, concise updates throughout the day) and listeners are able to find out more about an issue online or in press if they want to get more granular details.

How can advertisers make the most of radio’s strengths?

With issues around brand safety and campaigns such as Stop Funding Hate causing marketers many a sleepless night, radio offers a genuine opportunity for advertisers to sit around content which is not just safe, but has been shown to be the most trusted in the UK and Europe (Eurobarometer 86 report).

Radio sponsorships allow brands closer associations with station editorial whilst networked opportunities such as GTN or Newslink give advertisers the opportunity to run premium solus spots across 250+ commercial stations in immediate proximity to news and travel updates.

Digital channels are certainly looking to address these issues (the signing of the Gold Standard back in October was a start) however, there’s a long way to go before they reach the high benchmark set by radio – while I wait for them to catch up I’ll just be sat here, turning to the dial.

For more information call Aled Schell on 01761 23 4831 or email