We’re even more cynical about the media than we were 12 months ago. And The Daily Telegraph has extended its “lead” as Australia’s least-trusted major newspaper.

New polling from Essential Research shows Australia’s most trusted media outlet remains ABC television news and current affairs: 70% of voters have some or a lot of trust in it, including 21% who say they have “a lot of trust”. But that’s down three points from January of this year. SBS television news and current affairs is also trusted, with 65% of voters having some or a lot of trust. ABC radio news and current affairs scored 63% for some or a lot of trust, but that’s down seven points since January.

Daily newspapers remained stable, with 48% of respondents professing some or a lot of trust, albeit with only 4% saying they had a lot of trust. Commercial TV news and current affairs, however, lost three points to fall to 41%; commercial radio news and current affairs fell from 46% to 38%; commercial radio talkback is trusted by just 31% of voters, about the same level of trust as in January (32%); and ABC radio talkback is trusted by 46%, down three points. Some 24% of people say they have “no trust at all” in commercial talkback radio, the same number as have no trust at all in blogs.

The trust of readers in individual newspaper mastheads has also generally fallen. The Age is Australia’s most trusted newspaper, with 68% of Victorian voters having some or a lot of trust in what they read in it, but it has fallen three points this year. The Sydney Morning Herald has fallen seven points to 64%, placing it on the same level as The Australian, which is pretty much stable. The Courier-Mail has picked up two points to 59% of its readers who trust what they read, while the Herald Sun has lost two points, with 48% reporting some or a lot of trust in the paper.

And, yet again, The Daily Telegraph is Australia’s least trusted major newspaper. Only 48% of its readers had some or a lot of trust in it in January; now just 41% of readers have trust in the Telegraph, while 25% of readers have no trust at all in what they read in it, a figure rivalled only by the Herald Sun, for which 22% of its readers have no trust at all.

The collapse in trust in the Telegraph, which continues to run an aggressively pro-Coalition line months after the election campaign finished, follows a collapse in its sales: in 2013 sales fell by over 11% for its weekday edition, the same level as its Sunday edition and the biggest fall of any News Corp title, although not as big as the falls suffered by Fairfax’s metro titles.

The results suggest News Corp is on a difficult mission to convince consumers to join its war against the ABC, an organisation that, along with SBS, remains far more trusted for its news and current affairs content than News Corp outlets and newspapers generally.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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