Survey Finds Consumers Trust Traditional Media More Than New Media

LexisNexis just issued a seemingly misguided analysis on its survey of consumer trust of media sources:

The findings show that when consumers are faced with major events that significantly affect their lives, such as a pandemic or an ominous hurricane, their trust mostly remains with traditional media, such as professional journalists at mainstream newspapers, magazines, television and radio, versus emerging media sources created by citizen journalists including Internet-only publications, blogs and podcasts.

Half of those surveyed said that they would turn to network television for immediate news information in such situations, while the next most popular source was the radio (42%). Findings show that approximately a third of consumers (37%) would use daily local newspapers or cable news or business networks (33%), and a quarter of those interviewed would rely on Internet sites of print and broadcast media. In contrast, emerging media like Internet user groups, blogs and chat rooms would be used by (6%) surveyed.

What’s newsworthy about that? Big news organizations are expert in reporting big news events, so we turn to them for that purpose. Conversely, we turn to blogs for niche information, opinion, expertise and fact-checking of big media. They go hand in hand. It’s not either or.

Then the news release says:

LexisNexis asked consumers which news sources they are more likely to trust for information about the news that interests them the most. On average, consumers are four to six times more likely to feel that traditional media is more trustworthy than emerging news sources for news they feel is most interesting.

Now this is where I have a problem. People don’t trust traditional media channels versus emerging ones. They trust the institutions, brands and people behind them. You don’t trust the telephone versus an instant message client; you trust the person on the other end (or not). For example, I trust my friend David Berkowitz about what’s going on in the interactive industry a lot more than I do, say, Jayson Blair, who used to work the New York Times. (I spoke with Jayson a few times back when he covered my old company, Media Metrix, but that’s another story.)

The real trend going on is that people are trusting institutional information sources less, and each other a lot more. This is a growing trend that has been documented for years now by firms like GfK NOP and Edelman. The great thing about emerging media is that average people, including people you know well or can get to know well, can self-publish and become trusted sources of media. But again, you trust the person, not necessarily the media container it came in. That said, certain forms of media, like video, are better at conveying emotion, and could lend themselves to greater trust under the right circumstances.

This research was covered by AdAge, ZDNet and InformationWeek


Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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