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Brand and trust in a fragmented news environment

Are digital and social media fuelling a more partisan, less rational political discourse? With more people relying on social media for news , both the Brexit result in the UK and the rise of Donald Trump in the US have raised concerns around the growth of echo chambers and the reliability and accuracy of news on social media - while trust in mainstream news is low in many countries.

The Reuters Institute has released the results of qualitative research conducted in February 2016 by Kantar Media, looking at issues of brand and trust in an increasingly fragmented distributed news environments, where aggregators and social media play a key role. The project covers four countries – Germany, Spain, the UK and US – with a series of pre-tasked discussion groups, allowing for detailed investigation into people’s digital news habits and preferences.

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Brand and trust in a fragmented news environment

  1. 1. RESEARCH PRESENTATION Hosted by BBC, 11th October BRAND AND TRUST IN A FRAGMENTED NEWS ENVIRONMENT James Montgomery, Director of Digital Development,
  3. 3. Impact on brand recognition Q10b/cii_2016. Thinking about when you have used social media/aggregators for news, typically how often do you notice the news brand that has supplied the content? Notice = those who always or mostly notice the brand 3
  4. 4. Algorithms or editors? 4
  5. 5. Brand and trust in a fragmented news environment Qualitative research conducted for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford Jason Vir, Director, Kantar Media
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  7. 7. • News and platforms • Brand perceptions • Trust in news • Distributed environments • Speculation on the future The story 7
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  9. 9. What is news? information knowledge education discovery updates ongoing issues current events new developments what happened weather alerts sports scores what it means analysis way of keeping in touch news is produced reality in a package entertainment brings us together something to talk about SOCIAL VALUE HAS A STRUCTUREBEYOND FACTSRAW FACTS EVOLVINGTOPICS PERSONAL VALUE form of company can be manufactured? explanation facts spin? opinion 9
  10. 10. Deprivation exercise: a day without digital news sources No digital = missing out, feeling detached Noticed how much news habits are changing Enjoy bite size simplification But also, no digital = relief from information overload US, 35-54 UK, 20-34 10
  11. 11. How is news consumed? UK, 35-54 US, 20-34 News is ubiquitous, particularly with the rise of connected devices and apps Multiple sources and platforms allow people to navigate news stories both actively and passively There’s a cycle through the day and the week (ES: lunchtime peak as well as evening) Consuming news at the weekend is more immersive and relaxing, less time pressured Digital is eroding other platforms, esp printed newspapers, and radio to some extent News fits seamlessly into day-to-day life 11
  12. 12. Comparing platforms TV PRINT NEWSPAPER NEWS WEBSITE SOCIAL MEDIA Easy, entertaining, packaged, available, visual Journalistic, essential, ritualistic, but not up-to-date content Up-to-date, live, convenient, news brand credentials, clickbait Instant, effortless, interactive, mobile, but a minefield 12
  13. 13. Brand perceptions 13
  14. 14. Mapping the online news landscape more tabloid, populist newspapers apps tabloids social media no print, American broadcasters broadsheets newspapers online broadcasters news aggregators, more tailored amateur news, first person accounts, opinions Traditional print brands more salient among older 14 35-5420-34
  15. 15. Brand perceptions “BBC would probably be the one I go to… get to the facts about what’s going on.” 20-34, UK “That’s like Celebrity Big Brother – all about celebrities.” 35-54, UK “[Buzzfeed] doesn’t take itself too seriously.” 20-34, UK “They’re funny. They do some prank things.” 35-54, UK “It’s good for keeping up to date … if you’re actually following a story. Whereas, you watch the mainstream news on TV… the next day that’s gone.” 35-54, UK “I like it because… you also get like your celebrity gossip… health, fitness, lifestyle tips, sport, shopping, fashion, everything!” 20-34, UK 15
  16. 16. Mapping the online news landscape social media – not designed for news online newspapers / news magazines aggregators major players, mostly TV social media – interactive established news brands conservative liberal online newspapers Market less clear among older print heritage? human interest non-print 16 35-54 20-34
  17. 17. Brand perceptions “Great reputation, sometimes boring.” 20-34, US “Huffington Post feels like a blog to me.” 35-54, US “And it’s not serious… Kim Kardashian’s new clothes – I don’t care!” 35-54, US “It’s just a party.” 35-54, US “Oh my god, I used to take personality quizzes, like which character from Glee are you… so I try to avoid it.” 20-34, US 17
  18. 18. Perceptions and role of brands Native digital brands not as well known, esp among older and less tech engaged Print heritage further segmented by editorial approach Largely perceived along traditional platform lines Repertoire of news brands 18
  19. 19. Trust in news Examining the refugee/immigration story for trust factors 20
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  21. 21. Coherence across multiple sources helps build trust Trust a favoured news brand Triangulation – sources corroborate the story Headlines, images, tone can stir strong emotions Cautious of strong opinions on social media Good track record and past experiences First person accounts via social media Wary of political agenda DE: getting full story? (e.g. NYE assaults) 22
  22. 22. What is trust in news content? facts objectivity transparency accuracy impartial balance not biased capability well researched reporters in the field own investigation integrity honesty authentic how deal with mistakes plurality multiple sources validation triangulation experience consistent track record good history reliable familiar reporting style follow parents’ habits word of mouth recommendation sincere genuine tonality power of language power of visuals emotion trust in news content 23
  23. 23. Trust in news content ACCURACY IMPARTIALITY CAPABILITY EXPERIENCE INTEGRITY PLURALITY News content The product News organisation The provider News organisation’s values User responsibility TONALITY 24
  24. 24. What generates mistrust? • Sensationalism • Suppression • Dissonance • Commercial interests • Click bait • Errors and inaccuracies “And you also have to highlight the negative sides. It’s a lot of opinion-making and also censorship that’s happening and you always have to be careful.” 20-34, DE “Sensationalist journalism. And how the story is written, sometimes it's pitiful.” 35-54, ES “I mean the media is still responsible to its advertisers, be it television or website or print. I mean there’s kind of certain lines that they might not cross because they don’t want to put off their advertisers or even their owners.” 20-34, US 25
  25. 25. Facebook Flipboard Facebook Flipboard Facebook Apple News FacebookApple News 26
  26. 26. How different groups use social media “I still watch the news once a day Social media and Facebook are rather secondary” GERMANY 50+ OLDER “In the refugee crisis I got a lot of my news through Facebook, blogs, videos from the camps” UK 18-34 YOUNGER “When David Bowie died everyone flocked to Facebook so I would find it there, but I don’t think I would click into an article because I don’t feel social media has got integrity UK 35+ “Social media has brought a wonderful community. It has taken the newspaper and the chat room culture and has smashed them together” USA 18-34
  27. 27. FRIEND/ SHARER SOURCE/ NEWS BRAND STORY/ HEADLINE Trusting in news via social media is more complex A story of interest is the main pull – provided by headline, image Trust resides with established brands with a track record, where brand liked/followed A friend might raise awareness, pique interest – but why shared? A trusted friend can serve as a proxy for an unknown brand Or, popularity might encourage trust – validation of the crowd 1 2 3 28
  28. 28. Generally, younger and tech engaged more open to algorithm ALGORITHM EDITOR • Human expertise • Accountability • Manageable selection BUT • Agenda • Filter risk • Independent • Tailored • Broader selection BUT • Can produce odd results • Risk of filter bubble • Data concerns (esp DE), targeted ads 30
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  30. 30. Conclusions 1. Platforms fit into different routines and help people engage with news stories in different ways 2. Brands are an important vehicle for trust 3. Brands have varied visibility in distributed environments 4. The importance of the sharer of a news story in social media varies 5. Views about editors versus algorithms are mixed, and some are unaware of the latter 6. People are keen for established, trusted news brands to continue well into the future 33
  31. 31. Brand and trust in a fragmented news environment Qualitative research conducted for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford Jason Vir, Director, Kantar Media
  32. 32. Rasmus Nielsen Director of Research, Reuters Institute Q&A Jason Vir, James Montgomery,
  33. 33. More information at