It’s official: Magazines are UK’s most trusted source of news

OFcom Survey

A new report published by Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has revealed that magazines are the UK’s most trusted source of news.

The 2018 Ofcom News Consumption Survey looked at how adults and 12-15-year-olds in the UK consume news across television, newspapers, radio, social media, other internet sources and magazines.

Participants rated sources based on statements and ranked magazines the highest across the board for the following: “is important to me personally” (78 per cent), “is high quality” (82 per cent), “is accurate” (83 per cent), “is trustworthy” (80 per cent), “is impartial” (77 per cent), “offers a range of opinions” (79 per cent), “helps me make up my mind” (80 per cent), “helps me understand what’s going on in the world today” (84 per cent) and “has a depth of analysis and content not available elsewhere” (84 per cent).

Social media was the lowest-ranking news platform based on these statements.

The Publishers Audience Measurement Company (PAMCo) has also revealed its latest cross-platform audience readership figures, covering the period April 2017 to March 2018. PAMco is the governing body which oversees audience measurement for the published media industry. Its survey also shows that 89% of British adults consume magazines and news brands content each month.

The survey looked at audience delivery across all publisher platforms – phone, tablet, desktop and print, and delivers fresh insights into reader habits, including readers’ levels of engagement and trust.

Sharon White, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: “The fluid environment of social media certainly brings benefits to news, offering more choice, real-time updates, and a platform for different voices and perspectives. But it also presents new challenges for readers and regulators alike – something that we, as a regulator of editorial standards in TV and radio, are now giving thought for the online world.”

Magnetic, the UK marketing agency for consumer magazine media, says that magazine environments offer advertisers a quality context underpinned by engaged and passionate audiences who trust the content and find it relevant. It says “We know from our Matter of Trust study that this has a rub effect on the advertising placed there resulting in increases in key brand metrics.”

In the quality of media as a news source, 80 per cent of people said that magazines were the most trustworthy (TV was deemed to be the second most trustworthy at 70 per cent and Facebook the least  trustworthy at 35 per cent). The report also revealed that magazines have the most depth of analysis and content not available elsewhere (84 per cent), with TV again coming second at 63 per cent. Magazine brands also deliver against the factors most crucial to trust: relevancy and meaning; reliability and ethics, expertise and objectivity, transparency, viewpoint diversity and reputation and fame.

In blog post on planner bias, Sue Todd, Magetic CEO, said: “According to research released in March this year by Ebiquity and Radiocentre, traditional media are undervalued by industry decision-makers despite being considerably more effective for brand building when compared to online video and social media.

The reality is that demand for magazine content is going up, not down, according to Sue, and the report from PAMCo is proof.

Bias is a big problem, she adds. Many media planners are too young to recall the glory days of magazines and are more familiar with Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.

More so, with the majority of agencies based in London – where people rent, commute, have less disposable income, tend not to talk to strangers and work in offices – Todd laments the bias engendered by the “London media bubble”.

“We need to remind media planners that the London media bubble isn’t how all media is consumed,” she says.

As important is the potential threat to local democracy if local and regional media is weakened. Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State at the Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Our fearless and independent press plays a vital role in informing citizens and is one of the foundations on which our democracy is built.

“At a time of dramatic technological changes and with our institutions under threat from disinformation, we need this clear-eyed view of how high-quality journalism can continue to be effectively produced, distributed and consumed.”

The Government has commissioned an independent review into the future of high quality journalism in the UK, chaired by Dame Frances Cairncross.

The Cairncross review is investigating the overall state of the news media market, particularly the press industry, including threats to financial sustainability, the role and impact of digital search engines and social media platforms, the operation of the digital advertising supply chain, and how content and data flows are operated and managed.