As news media become more important, which networks do we trust?

by | Aug 21, 2020 | Public Relations

With so many hot-button issues in society and the world these days, news reporting has gotten more valuable than ever—as long as that coverage is trustworthy. Which outlets are delivering on that “trust” factor?

Coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, racial justice protests, unemployment, the economic crisis, and the upcoming Presidential election have amplified TV news viewership for virtually every news show. The sixth wave of news media tracking from brand loyalty research consultancy Brand Keys again examines how strong the value of “trust” is for the TV news brands viewers who watch regularly (3+ times a week).

The firm’s latest Media Trust Trackingsurvey assesses the contribution that the value of “trust” plays in viewer brand engagement and positive consumer viewership-behavior for a lineup of shows. Trust ratings for ABC, BBC, CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC were all assessed at a 90 percent contribution to this wave.

As news media become more important, which networks do we trust?

Since the survey’s inception, in August 2018, the largest two-year growth in viewer-trust has been for CNN and ABC (+21 percent each), NBC (+19 percent), CBS (+16 percent), and MSNBC (+10 percent).

“Trust” relates to a number of factors when it comes to televised news

But foremost among them is a fair presentation of content important to viewers. A total audience drill-down of what content was of primary concern to respondents this wave, indicated the following:

As news media become more important, which networks do we trust?

Because a huge percentage of the news coverage includes President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force updates, comments on the economy, and his upcoming re-election campaign, Brand Keys also measured how much “trust” viewers had in the President, versus their regularly-watched TV brands, and the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.

In the most recent wave, overall respondent levels for the individual value of “trust” rated Mr. Trump 19 percent (+7 percent) and Mr. Biden at 49 percent (+6 percent).

Examined by political affiliation, Democrats rated Mr. Trump 2 percent (—), Independents 8 percent (+4%), and Republicans 47 percent (+17%).

For Mr. Biden, the affiliation analysis had Democrats at 83 percent (+11 percent), Independents at 44 percent (+5 percent), and Republicans at 19 percent (+1 percent).

Individual values like “trust” correlate highly with consumer behavior like voting

However, trust is only one of five critical values Brand Keys has validated as components of the “Ideal President” and, therefore, the yardstick voters use in “measuring up” a candidate. In addition to “trust” (Is the candidate reliable and truthful?), the other values include (alphabetically):

  • Action: Does the candidate have a comprehensive, realistic, well-considered plan for solving the problems facing the country?
  • Compassion: Does the candidate care about all the people?
  • Perception: Does the candidate have a deep understanding of the problems facing the county?
  • Resolve: Does the candidate have the strength and leadership to guide the country?

It is important to note that while those five values are used to “define” the Ideal President, they vary in their order of importance and the level of expectation held for each, according to a voter’s political affiliation.

Via the Brand Keys Emotional Engagement Brand Analysis, 5,066 wave-six respondents (balanced for gender and political affiliation, from the nine U.S. Census Regions) rated the TV news brands they watch regularly.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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