Essential’s regular “trust in media” survey shows trust in virtually all media has fallen significantly since 2014, with both the ABC and newspapers plunging to five-year lows.

The ABC retains its status as the nation’s most trusted source of news and current affairs: 63% of voters have “a lot” or “some” trust in ABC television news, while 58% have a lot or some trust in ABC radio. SBS television news scores 61% trust, while ABC talkback scores 46%, meaning the national broadcasters hold four of the top five positions. Local newspapers (as distinct from daily newspapers) score 50% trust. However, ABC TV has fallen 6 points in terms of trust since November last year, while SBS TV has fallen 5 points and ABC Radio 4 points.

And daily newspapers have now fallen behind commercial television in trust. Since 2011, newspapers have had the edge on commercial television, but the broadcasters have now taken the lead, 46% to 45%, with newspapers falling 5 points since November while commercial TV only fell two points. Commercial radio is down a point to 44%; news websites down three points to 42% and blogs down two points to 20%. As always, commercial radio talkback is the least trusted major medium, but bucked the trend and lifted a point to 34%. Commercial talkback has the highest “no trust at all” rating, 22%, even ahead of blogs (21%), and commercial TV (15%) while the ABC has the highest “a lot of trust” score, 21%.

Essential also asked about the level of interest in news. Local and state news was easily the issue that draws most interest, with 45% of voters saying they had “a lot of interest” in it. National political news was only of interest to 28% of voters; both the weather (37%) and international news (35%) rated higher.

But only 9% of voters confessed to having a lot of interest in celebrity/entertainment news, which makes us wonder about why media outlets devote so much effort to bringing consumers a constant diet of celebrity gossip and scandal. Perhaps, in the manner of the “shy Tory” phenomenon whereby conservative voters tell pollsters they’ll vote for progressive parties but then do otherwise in the privacy of the voting booth, there’s a substantial number of shy celebrity obsessives out there. Older voters were much more likely to be interested in international news than younger voters; 27% of men said they were interested in business and finance news compared to 11% of women, and people over 65 were around twice as likely to have a lot of interest in the weather than people under 35.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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