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Five factors that make news trustworthy

The five factors that make a news story trustworthy

What makes news consumers consider a story trustworthy? A survey by the Pew Research Centre in the US shows there are five factors that people say it is at least somewhat important to consider each of to decide if a news story is trustworthy or not:

  • 88% say the news organization that publishes it;
  • 86% the sources cited in it; *
  • 77% their gut instinct about it;
  • 68% the person, if any, who shared it with them;
  • 66% the specific journalist who reported it;
  • 24% also think it is important to know if the story has a lot of shares, comments or likes on social media.

But notably fewer see each of these factors as very important:

  • Half of US adults point to the news organization that publishes a story;
  • 47% point to the sources that are cited in it;
  • 30% cite their gut instinct about the story;
  • 24% the specific journalist who reported it;
  • 23% the person who shared it with them;
  • 6% the engagement it has received on social media.

Older were generally more likely than younger to point to the news organization that publishes a story and the sources that are cited in it as critical factors when determining its trustworthiness.

“Among those 65 and older, 57% say the news organization is a very important factor and 54% say the same about the sources cited. Smaller proportions of adults under 30 see these as very important factors (42% and 41%, respectively).”

The Pew says these findings are consistent with previous  studies, which found that younger Americans tend to feel less connected to their sources of news and are less likely to remember the sources of online news links they clicked on.”

“Avid news followers are more likely to see all of the factors asked about in the survey as critical when deciding on a news story’s trustworthiness. For instance, Americans who are very closely following news about the Biden administration are especially likely to say it’s very important to consider the news organization that publishes a story (69%) and the sources that are cited in it (65%). Among those who are following Biden administration news less closely, fewer see these factors as very important.”


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