The events of 2020 presented another devastating economic blow to newsrooms, an industry already beset by years of declining circulation and plummeting advertising revenues. But despite the ongoing challenges facing today’s media world, journalists feel that public trust in the media has improved in the last year, a trend that many believe will continue going forward, according to findings in the latest State of the News Media report issued by Chicago-based PR software giant Cision.

Cision’s annual report, which surveyed members of the press around the world to uncover the emerging trends and top challenges facing the media industry today, found that more than half (53 percent) of journalists polled said they feel the public lost trust in the media over the last year.

As bad as that might sound, it’s actually a marked improvement from journalists’ views on public trust in the last year (down from the 59 percent of journalists who said they believe the public has lost trust in the media in Cision’s 2020 survey) and reveals an ongoing, steady improvement from previous iterations of the annual Cision report (63 percent in 2019, 71 percent in 2018 and 91 percent in 2017).

In the U.S., where a contentious relationship between the White House and several media outlets were aired publicly over the last four years, 36 percent of journalists said they now think the Biden administration will help usher in a greater public trust in the media going forward. However, 47 percent believe that trust in the press won’t change significantly.

When it comes to what types of stories journalists are looking for this year, it appears that COVID continues to shape the news, as nearly half of reporters surveyed (46 percent) said they’re still actively seeking out new angles for COVID-19 coverage. But 37 percent said that “'feel good'” stories regarding how companies and communities are helping others are a big part of their editorial strategy for 2021, a third (33 percent) said they’re on the lookout for stories focused on furthering diversity, inclusion and equality and nearly the same number (32 percent) said they’re looking for stories on how companies and communities are getting back to normal. Nearly a third (31 percent) said they’re looking for stories on new technologies that are helping businesses and consumers and 29 percent said they’re interested in more research-based, thought leadership content covering topical issues.

The percentage of journalists who believe the public has lost trust in the media has shrunk steadily over the last five years.

As in previous years, the journalists surveyed said they were overworked and strapped for resources while facing increased pressure to do more, with 47 percent saying they currently cover five or more beats and 33 percent now file 10 or more stories per week. In addition, more than one in four journos (28 percent) said they currently receive more than 100 PR pitches per week, the majority of which end up in the virtual trash due to irrelevance.

Most journalists (78 percent) said press releases remain the kind of content they want to see most from brands and PR professionals, while 68 percent are looking for original research such as trends and market data. Nearly half (45 percent) want invitations to events, 43 percent want initial ideas for story development, and 34 percent want invitations to meet spokespeople (either virtually or in-person). Bottoming out the list were offers of comment on current news (26 percent), data-driven predictive insights on a story’s potential performance (17 percent) and guest blog posts or byline articles (16 percent).

Cision’s “2021 Global State of the Media Report” surveyed 2,750 journalists and media professionals in 15 countries between February 1 and March 1, 2021. Respondents were sourced from Cision’s Media Database as well as from PR Newswire for Journalists database.