Journalists believe the public’s distrust of the media is decreasing, an annual industry report indicated.
Cision’s 2019 annual State of the Media report found that 63 per cent of journalists indicated the public has lost trust in the media, down significantly from 2017, when 91 per cent felt this way.
More than half of respondents agreed accuracy is more important than being the first to publish, with only five per cent stating this was their top priority.
“Reporting the truth is more important than ever. The purpose of journalism has not changed, but it has evolved,” read the report. “The goal of journalism in 2019 is to provide coverage so informative and so reliable that people around the world are willing to pay for it. Trust has become a business model.”
The report, which surveyed 1,999 journalists from 10 countries between Feb. 5 and 27, quantified industry sentiment on topics like attacks on the press, the role of audience engagement data when deciding what content to produce and threats posed by the rise of social media
Respondents – mostly media workers in the print industry with some from broadcast, online, freelance and social influencer – were from the United States, Canada, and various European and South American countries, though the majority of respondents are in Canada, the U.S. and United Kingdom, with only a handful in other regions.
Twenty-two per cent of respondents stated that “social networks and influencers bypassing traditional media” was their biggest challenge. According to the 2018 report, lack of resources and staffing was named the biggest threat to journalism, but this year, social media took first place.
“Publishers realize they can’t rely on Facebook as a distribution platform the way they thought they could,” read the report. “However, journalists still rely on social media to stay connected to sources and real-time news. Social data is also more important that ever, in helping determine which stories resonated.”
The importance of readership and viewers was also emphasized, stating that this is one of the main driving factors behind the development of a story. In fact, 65 per cent of journalists said the increased availability of readership metrics has changed the way journalists evaluate the newsworthiness of their content.
Only two per cent said personal safety was their top concern. Canadian and European journalists are feeling the brunt, with 8.7 per cent saying safety is their primary worry, compared to 5.6 per cent of American journalists.
Journalists’ relationships with PR professionals was found to be increasingly valuable, as newsrooms continue to deal with time and resource deficits, according to the data from Cision, which provides communications and PR services to companies internationally.
In 2018, nine per cent of respondents said that their PR relationships had gotten more valuable, up to 27 per cent in 2019. However, 75 per cent believe less than a quarter of pitches they receive are relevant to their publication. Sixty-five per cent want customized press releases.
“If you haven’t taken a few minutes to understand what our publication covers, I’m less likely to open your next email,” said a survey respondent.