GENEVA — The European Broadcasting Union says radio is the most trusted medium in Europe; while social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are trusted the least. These conclusions are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 people across the European Union’s 33 countries.
According to the data — which was published in the 88th Euro barometer survey and then analyzed to create the EBU’s “Trust in Media 2018” report (the 2018 EBU Report) — “Radio is the medium most trusted by EU citizens,” said the 2018 EBU Report. “59 percent of the population trusts it.” This is the same level of trust the EBU reported last year.
In addition, 51 percent of Europeans surveyed “tend to trust” TV (the 2018 EBU Report’s characterization), up one percentage point from the same time in 2017. Also, 47 percent tend to trust newspapers and magazines, while 34 percent tend to trust what they read on the web. But only 20 percent tend to trust what they read on social networks, illustrating just how hard the phenomenon of “fake news” has damaged the credibility of Facebook and Twitter.
Interestingly, while overall European trust in media appears to be at an all-time low, the 2018 EBU Report’s data indicates that the public’s trust in traditional broadcast and written media is actually going up.
“The results of our research show that good quality, impartial media is highly valued by the public,” said Roberto Suárez Candel, the EBU's Head of Strategy and Media Intelligence Service. “Public service media plays an important role in that and, together, our members make an invaluable contribution to society.”
The “media trust numbers” listed in the 2018 EBU Report offer interesting insights into European attitudes toward the media.
First, “The higher the level of trust in a country’s radio and TV, the higher the press freedom tends to be in that country,” said the EBU report. “The strong correlation suggests that in the European content, citizens’ trust in broadcast media is closely connected with a free and independent press.”
Second, trust in specific media is definitely based on regional perceptions, and likely historical experiences of media trustworthiness (or lack thereof).
For instance, radio is the most trusted media in 24 out of 33 European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Nordic countries. However, “In southeastern Europe citizens tend not to trust radio,” said the 2018 EBU Report.
Meanwhile, TV is the most trusted media in six European countries — including Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. The internet is the most trusted media in Greece, Hungary, and Serbia.
Third, the European nation where the most people have “high trust” in the media is Albania at 42 percent. Meanwhile, the country with the most people having “low or no trust in the media” is the United Kingdom at 52 percent. Given Albania’s decades of strictly government-controlled media under Communism, and the U.K.’s access to the BBC and free press during the same time period, these numbers are striking,
The full EBU Trust in Media 2018 report is available (after free registration) here.