Trust in printed newspapers stays consistent during pandemic

The Proof Strategies CanTrust Index 2021 report was released earlier this month. The CanTrust Index is one of the leading sources of research and insights on trust in Canada. New this year, the report also includes information on trust related to COVID-19.

Looking at the news media industry specifically, trust has been dropping year over year. In 2020, trust was at 44% and this year, trust scored at 38%. Looking at the Y.O.Y drop in detail, it is primarily driven by declines in older age groups, B.C., the Prairies, and Atlantic regions.

This 6% drop may not be as bleak as it seems, however, when breaking out the data by traditional versus digital media, newspapers stayed consistent Y.O.Y (55%), television dropped 2% (51% from 53%), and radio dropped 3% (50% from 53%). On the other side of the spectrum, trust in online news declined 10% (39% from 49%). Social media also scored lower comparatively.

Adding on to this, results show that Canadians consider access to independent, fact-based journalism extremely or very important. More than eight in ten Canadians believe that independent fact-based journalism is a vital component of the Canadian system. And when looking at the impact of ownership on trust, Canadians were more likely to trust government funded sources (34%) versus not-for-profit (27%) and private for profit (22%).

The country’s overall CanTrust Index score for 2021 is 37%, down 1% from last year (38%). Overall findings show that trust in businesses at the moment is stable, however at a very low point. While some areas/sectors have had higher levels than others, one of the key takeaways is that small businesses continue to score higher in trust than large corporations.

When asked what behaviour would make a company more trustworthy, responses included; having similar values to own (67%), a focus on employee safety and wellbeing (67%), having a leader that communicates openly (63%), advocating for positive social change (58%), and committing to inclusion and diversity (57%). Results also show trust gaps within demographic groups, wherein higher earners (100K+) exhibit higher levels of trust than lower-income groups, and younger Canadians are shown to have a lower trust level than Boomers.

To read more about the 2021 CanTrust Index, click here to download the full report.