Irish people’s trust in media increases amid concern over fake news

WhatsApp overtakes Facebook as Ireland’s most popular social media platform – report

Irish respondents were generally sceptical of news they see on social media. Photograph: iStock

Irish respondents were generally sceptical of news they see on social media. Photograph: iStock

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Irish people have become more interested in the news over the past 12 months, while levels of trust in the news have also increased amid high levels of concern about what is real or fake on the internet, according to a major new report.

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report is the largest ongoing comparative study of news consumption in the world. The Irish data forms part of the larger survey, conducted in 46 countries. It is being launched by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland on Wednesday.

The research of more than 2,000 people in Ireland found 70 per cent are extremely or very interested in news, which was up 5 per cent on last year. This was higher than the EU average (60 per cent), the UK (51 per cent) and North America (54 per cent).

The number of consumers who cite television as their main source of news in Ireland has risen by eight percentage points to 41 per cent.

Source:
Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report

The next most popular source of news is online (excluding social media and blogs) at 29 per cent (unchanged from 2020) and social media at 16 per cent, down four percentage points on 2020. Podcast listening is still high in Ireland, although the rise has tailed off.

Main source

The number of consumers citing radio as their main source of news has fallen by four percentage points, to 9 per cent, and the number citing printed newspapers has fallen by two percentage points to 4 per cent.

Levels of trust in news in Ireland increased by five percentage points over the past year, with 53 per cent of respondents expressing positive levels of trust. This, again, was higher than the EU (45 per cent), the UK (37 per cent) and North America (37 per cent).

RTÉ has come out on top as the “most trusted news brand” at 78 per cent, while The Irish Times is a point behind on 77 per cent.

The number of Irish consumers paying for news subscriptions or access increased by four percentage points to 16 per cent. Irish consumers are more willing than their EU (15 per cent) or UK (8 per cent) counterparts to pay for news.

The report noted that The Irish Times, which has been active in the online and subscriptions space longest, holds the largest (24 per cent) share of that market in an Irish context.

The report also found that WhatsApp has overtaken Facebook as the most popular social media platform in Ireland, and is used by 69 per cent of respondents.

Declined

For news specifically, Facebook has declined in popularity since last year (-4 per cent), as has YouTube (-4 per cent), Twitter (-1 per cent), and Snapchat (-2 per cent).

Irish respondents were generally sceptical of news they see on social media, with 51 per cent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the statement: “You can trust the news on social media most of the time.”

Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report

Some 75 per cent of those in the over-65s age group said they were “concerned about what is real and what is fake on the internet”, compared with 55 per cent of 18-24-year-olds.

For Irish news consumers, Covid-19 topped the bill for false or misleading information seen in the last week (49 per cent), followed by politics (28 per cent), celebrities (25 per cent) and climate change or the environment (19 per cent).

For younger cohorts (18-34-year-olds), “ordinary people” were cited as the most concerning sources for false or misleading Covid-19 information, while “activists or activist groups” were cited in this category for those aged over 55.

Facebook was the main platform that caused most concern regarding Covid-related false or misleading information (38 per cent).