How credible is the media? But above all, is the web more reliable or rather television and the rest of traditional media? A recent American research conducted by Edelman has discovered a substantial equality between the two worlds: 66% of the people interviewed place full trust in the information coming from traditional media , such as television, radio, or the press. 63% instead believe the information coming from search engines , like Google, to be reliable. This trust of the web goes down, if the source of the information is social media. Just 41% of you trust it, perhaps because of the fake news phenomenon that in recent years has significantly reduced the credibility of social networks in their role as distributors of information, data, and news.
We have all become publishers
Beyond the data, one thing is certain. New technology has opened the confines of encyclopedias. At this point, it is easy to find any kind of information, but falling into the traps – or "hoaxes" – is a sure risk. It is becoming more and more difficult to ascertain the truth in the news that we get.
But not only. The rules that underlie journalism have gone to shreds, and the boundary between “professionals” and media content creators has also been redesigned and is now blurred. Anyone can share their version of the facts, giving them their own vision, posting it on their social profile or on their own web space. Everyone has become a publisher for a more or less wide audience. Anyone can speak through a powerful media, which triggers word of mouth, whether it be their own truth or an invention of something credible or completely absurd, without anyone caring too much about it.
And this is how the blogs, initially manned by "competent" people who made their knowledge available in exchange for some fast-paced advertising, began to give way to those who, to emerge and have notoriety, invented stories, facts, and misdeeds and have made it a market.
Traditional media and social media. The latest research data: the Italian case
Edelman's research data on the credibility of information through traditional and digital media is also confirmed by a recent Italian study , entitled "How new Italian generations are informed" conducted by the Demopolis institute on behalf of the Official rder of Italian journalists. According to this survey, those under 30 in Italy use the online press (75%) as an information tool, but also television (66%). Compared to Edelman's data, however, the Italians under 30 place greater trust in social networks. In fact, 63% use Facebook or YouTube to stay informed. However, it is not a blind trust. As many as 56% of them view the news from social media with a critical attitude, often doubting the credibility of such news. Confidence in the reliability of news rises, if instead we rely on traditional media. In fact, only 34% say they often doubt the credibility of television or print media, compared to 51% who claim to doubt it only sometimes.
We spend more time on digital media than on traditional media
Although the credibility of social media, in terms of information distributors, is much lower than in television, radio, or the press, it is certain that we spend much more time on Facebook or YouTube than in front of a television program or on a paper.
This data is confirmed by a Global Digital 2018 survey, conducted by We Are Social in collaboration with Hootsuite, the most widely used social media management platform in the world. It is clear that users spend most of their time online, on social media platforms: on average, users spend twice as much time on digital platforms (6 hours a day, of which 2 are dedicated to social media) compared to 3 hours dedicated to traditional media such as TV. It should be emphasized that it reaches 3 hours also thanks to the time dedicated to streaming on demand.
It goes without saying that the idea about the world, information, and the creation of one's own point of view is also conveyed through the platforms.
The credibility of the media: what are the causes of the crisis?
Then, if we go back to the initial question, what credibility does the media have, perhaps the answer is not so difficult: the media, both traditional and digital, are suffering from a heavy crisis, which made them enter a tunnel with a difficult exit road. There are many causes for this loss of credibility. As Michael Haller, Director of the Research Department of the Hamburg Media School rightly observed in an article on the credibility of European media, the main reasons for this crisis are:
- Journalists' decline in research capacity: many media operators prefer to stick to official versions, without going any further. Searching for sources on Google, clicking on the first five results is not doing research. The actual verification of the sources, the active search for informants, or the investigation itself have become a rare.
- Lack of professionalism: many newsrooms publish anything coming from marketing agencies or corporate or political spin-doctors. They do not even realize that in so doing they are working in public relations instead of journalism.
- Too many unopposed opinions and few facts: information is often filtered and adulterated by the comments of influencers and opinion leaders. The result is that the facts, what actually happened, in its essentiality are lost.
- Little diversity in the mainstream: Too often, the major press releases publish almost identical interpretations of what is politically, economically, and culturally desirable. As a result, societal minority groups perceive the views of mainstream media as arrogant, particularly those who see themselves as victims of the process of social change. Now the rift between mainstream hypocrisy and marginalized groups of society has become broad and profound: for many, the mainstream media have only become spokesmen for the System.