Trust in Traditional Media

Even if you’re just a casual social media or YouTube user, you’ve likely been exposed to some sort of questionable information that lacks reliable and reputable sourcing.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In May of 2020, a survey of over 8,000 people around the world revealed a feeling of distrust brewing towards social media platforms. Unfortunately, advertisers on these platforms have now been caught in the crossfire because their brands are unprotected among misinformation.

According to the survey, 67% of US adults say that they’ve come across false information on social media.  More concerning is that 56% say they have trouble recognizing fake news on social media. Only 14% of those surveyed said that they trust advertisers on social media platforms, while newspapers ranked #1 in trust with over 69%, saying newspapers are the most trustworthy source of news and information. (Statista)


Amidst worry, the pandemic has also showed us that the need for credible and reliable journalism is urgent.  In the early stages of COVID-19, misinformation lurked around digital media, and assessing its credibility was easy — it wasn’t credible at all.


But people were still fearful and wanting to know how COVID-19 was impacting their communities.  Local media saw record-breaking increases in website visits and print subscriptions. Many also made the decision to provide their COVID-19 content outside of a paywall on their websites.  (And I know, I know – If you hate paywalls because you feel news and information should be free, ask yourself if you’d walk into a pizza shop and eat a slice of ‘za without paying for it.)

The reality is that local media took a hit in much needed revenues that fund their journalism efforts to provide important information relating to a global pandemic to their communities, and the communities have thanked them by continuing to support their local media through print and digital subscriptions.


As local trust continued to grow with local newspapers, so did community trust in local businesses.  Newspapers have been more than philanthropic during COVID-19, but so have local businesses in their respective communities.

Newspapers and local businesses worked together to create awareness efforts for those in need and highlighted and sponsored front-line workers with historic special sections, all while they’re struggling to keep their doors open during a pandemic lockdown.  With the renewed sense of camaraderie at-large between local businesses and their local newspaper, increase in community trust wasn’t far behind.  In short, business trust and media trust grew together in the eyes of their communities.

In many cases, newspapers offer the most affordable cost-per-person with an ad compared to any form of digital advertising.  Couple that with trustworthiness and you have a powerful marketing vehicle that digital marketing can complement – not the other way around.