Dr Rasmus Kleis Nielsen—supplementary written evidence (FOJ0001)
Thanks again for the opportunity to give evidence to your important inquiry into the future of journalism.
I promised to provide more detailed evidence on Baroness McIntosh’s question regarding how many people rely only on news from what we might consider to be unreliable sources, versus how many rely only on more trusted ones.
As I stressed at the hearing, I don’t think there is a clear, objective, and agreed-upon way to define reliable and unreliable, and passing judgement on the totality of an entire outlet’s news production on the basis of some of its more diverting or opinionated content is not always a reasonably approach, but I would suggest we can use how broadly trusted a news media outlet is by the British public as a useful proxy. (Theoretically, we could imagine that many people say they trust outlets that experienced journalists or outside experts would say are not trustworthy, but in practice, we have never found that.)
If we accept the public perception of how trustworthy news outlets are as a useful approach, our data from 2019 suggests that the five most broadly trusted sources of news in the UK among the outlets we cover in our survey are the BBC, ITV, FT, Channel 4, and a more generic category of “regional/local newspaper”. The five least five least broadly trusted sources of news are the Sun, BuzzFeed, the Canary, Daily Mail/Mail Online, and the Daily Mirror. I should stress here that our survey does not cover for example RT or similar outlets, and that the list of brands covered is not comprehensive.
With this data, we can determine how many percent of online news users say they have ONLY used one of the five most broadly trusted sources in the past week (18%), and how many say they have ONLY used one of the five least broadly trusted sources in the past week (2.7%).
The percentage of people who say they have ONLY gotten news from individual brands below breaks down as follows
MOST BROADLY TRUSTED
BBC (including TV News, BBC Radio News, BBC News online) 9.5%
ITV News, (including ITV News online) 1.5%
C4 News, (including C4 News online) 0.1%
Financial Times (including Financial Times online) 0.2%
A regional or local newspaper (print or online) 0.3%
LEAST BROADLY TRUSTED
The Sun/Sun on Sunday, The Sun online 0.8%
BuzzFeed News 0.03%
Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday, Mail online 0.9%
Daily Mirror/Sunday Mirror/Sunday People, Mirror online 0.4%
To illustrate how news consumption is characterized by high degree of overlap even between news outlets we might think of as very different, we have looked at the overlap between the BBC (as the most widely used and most broadly trusted source) and the Sun and the Mirror, as two popular but less broadly trusted sources. We find that a clear majority of both the Sun and the Mirror’s readers ALSO use the BBC as a source of news.
I attach a short word document with further details of the analysis, kindly produced by my colleagues Dr Anne Schultz and Dr Richard Fletcher.
There are many important problems to address and challenges both to the future of journalism in the UK and to ensuring a informed, and equally informed, public and robust but constructive exchange of views in public life, but I would personally interpret this data to suggest that the vast majority of the British public has a reasonably diverse news diet, mostly from broadly trusted sources, and that almost all of those who use the less broadly trusted sources also use highly trusted ones.
I hope this is useful as you continue your work.
4 March 2020
A) What percentage of our respondents report using ONLY one of the five LEAST broadly trusted sources of news we report brand trust scores for (the Sun, BuzzFeed, the Canary, Daily Mail/Mail Online, or Daily Mirror)
2.7% of UK respondents (DNR 2019) ONLY use any of the five least trusted sources of news (i.e., The SUN, Buzzfeed, the Canary, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror).
The Sun / Sun on Sunday,
Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday,
Daily Mirror / Sunday Mirror / Sunday People, Mirror online
Any of the 5 above
Base: DNR 2019 UK, weighted N = 2023. Note: Those counted as ONLY brand X users have neither used any of the other four brands listed in the table nor any of the following outlets across platforms in the last week: BBC News, ITV News, Financial Times, Channel 4 News, Reginal or Local News, The Times, Sky News, The Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, HuffPost.
B) What percentage of our respondents report using ONLY one of the five MOST broadly trusted sources of news we report brand trust scores for (the BBC, ITV, FT, Channel 4, or regional/local newspaper)
18.1% of UK respondents (DNR 2019) ONLY use any of the five highest trusted sources of news (i.e., The BBC, ITV, FT, Channel 4, or regional/local newspaper).
BBC TV News, BBC Radio News, BBC News online
ITV News, ITV News online
C4 News, C4 News online
Financial Times, Financial Times online
A regional or local newspaper, Other regional or local newspaper website
Any of the 5 above
Base: DNR 2019 UK, weighted N = 2023. Those counted as ONLY brand X users have not used any of the following outlets across platforms in the last week: Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Canary, Buzzfeed News, the Sun, The Times, Sky News, The Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, HuffPost.
C) A venn diagram of overlap between (a) those who report they have used the BBC online or offline for news at least once in the past week, (b) those who have used the Mirror online or offline, and (c) those who have used the Sun online or offline
Base: DNR 2019 UK, weighted N = 2023.