Despite the constant chaos encircling today’s media world, perceived public trust in journalism has been on the rise in the last year, according to findings in the latest State of the News Media report issued by Chicago-based PR software giant Cision.
The report, which surveyed journalists regarding their current perceptions of the media world as well as the trends and challenges facing the press today, found that 71 percent of respondents believe the public has lost trust in journalists in the last year. It’s an alarming number, but a positive sign if you consider this percentage is down markedly from the 91 percent who said the same thing in Cision’s survey last year.
Journalists' newfound confidence comes in light of a recent return in profits and readers to many subscription-based news outlets. The New York Times Co. yesterday reported that first-quarter revenues were up four percent and operating profit had jumped 22 percent to $34.1 million (digital-only Times subscriptions, by contrast, leapt 46 percent in 2017). The Wall Street Journal added 300,000 digital subscriptions in fiscal 2017.
Misinformation and the fake news phenomenon continue to take the blame for the media’s trust problem: more than half (56 percent) said fake news has made readers more skeptical about the content produced by newsrooms.
By and large, journalists said they consider being accurate more important than being first: 78 percent of respondents said that being 100 percent accurate in their reporting is their top priority, superseding the possibility of breaking a story or having an exclusive. Only 10 percent placed an emphasis on being first, a three percent decline from 13 percent in last year’s survey.
How the media ranked different earned and owned channels for trustworthiness.
The survey also polled journos on what PR outreach channels they find most helpful, accurate and trustworthy. Most opt for the historic route — press releases — as 63 percent said this is how they prefer interacting with PR pros, and nearly half (44 percent) said they found these announcements to be the most trustworthy source of brand-related information, compared to only 30 percent who said the same about company spokespersons and 20 percent who cited a company’s website.
When asked what factors could make press releases more effective, 45 percent suggested that PR pros utilize a clearly-stated news hook. Nearly a third (28 percent) also wanted PR pros to do a better job of researching their newsbeats and outlets before pitching them, and a similar number (27 percent) said they disliked releases riddled with industry jargon, preferring writing that instead has a conversational tone.
When asked to predict what new technologies journalists think will impact the ways in which they work, more than a third (34 percent) cited new social media algorithms, followed by cheaper video production technology (26 percent) and AI and machine learning technology (21 percent).
Nearly a third of journalists (28 percent) said staffing and resources would be the biggest challenges facing the industry in the coming year.
Cision’s annual State of the Media report surveyed more than 1,350 journalists from six countries working for print, broadcast and online-only outlets. The survey was conducted in February.