Reports Media & Marketing

Truth and Trust in the Era of Fake News

Report by Mark Mulligan
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The 20,000 Foot View:  The second half of the 2010s have become a watershed moment for news. The combination of the manipulation of social platforms by political agents, the growing effect of consumers’ personal filter bubbles and the quasi-legitimisation of unscrupulous news outlets have undermined audience trust across the whole political spectrum. Trust has never been at a lower ebb, to the extent that even those news outlets that seek to productise objectivity are simply seen as part of the trust problem by readers on another end of the political divide. News is caught in a prolonged process of existential crisis, unsure whether the future holds a return to long-held values or instead a dystopian crisis of perpetual polarisation, mistrust and audience manipulation.

Key Findings

  • The UK referendum, the US presidential election and the Cambridge Analytica scandal changed forever how news works and its relationship with audiences
  • These events helped polarise views, dilute truth and confirm people’s worldviews through the lens of filter bubbles
  • Trust has become politicised, facts have become devalued and influence democratised
  • Trusting a source is the most important consumer consideration for news but this does not inherently mean a desire for facts, truth and objective journalism
  •        of consumers state that trusting a news source is important to them, peaking among German consumers        and falling to        in Japan 
  • The legacy of the post-truth era is mistrust of anything that does not conform to a reader’s worldview, whether that be liberal or neo-conservative
  •        of consumers share news stories on social media and        usually check for accuracy before sharing
  • Just        of consumers think it important to be informed of global trends, falling to just        in the Netherlands and rising to        in India
  • The BBC is the most valued news source among Canadians and Australians, with The Economist second in Australia and CNN second in Canada
  • Apple Music, Amazon and Deezer users are all more likely to care about keeping on top of global trends than Spotify users
  • Filter bubbles build virtual walls around audiences, conditioning them against any message or editorial policy that does not align with their worldview
  • Post-truth is not in fact the end of truth but instead a process of market liberalisation

Companies and brands mentioned in this report:  Amazon, Amazon Prime Video, Apple, The BBC, Cambridge Analytica, CNN, Deezer, The Economist, The European Union, Facebook, The Financial Times, Fox News, The Gateway Pundit, Google, Infowars, Netflix, News+, The New York Times, Spotify

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