The latest trust in news report by the Auckland University of Technology Journalism, Media, and Democracy center showed a fall in trust in New Zealand media, anecdotally driven in part by a new programme intended to support public interest journalism but which may have had the unintended consequence of making media seem less independent.
Trust in media fell to 45% in 2022 from 53% in 2020 in the survey, which is conducted on a comparable basis to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism Trust in News Project and showed a global fall to 50% from 56%.
“The general trust in the government has declined, and we now have funding of the news by the government, so a lot of people perceive that the media is in the government’s pocket,” said one of the AUT JMAD study co-authors Dr. Merja Myllylahti, referring to the Public Interest Journalism Fund. The fund is a NZ$75 million two-year programme under which media owners bid for support for specific projects, many of them addressing under-served audiences such as the indigenous Maori population. (Dr Myllylahti is a regular contributor to INMA’s Media Research Blog.)
The report also found that misinformation and disinformation, circulated widely during the pandemic, had contributed to the erosion of trust in the media.
I have an interest to declare: I consulted to New Zealand On Air to help prepare the Public Interest Journalism Fund in 2020. At that time, it was a response to crisis in media from the impact on advertising as the pandemic hit and several publishers faced collapse.
The JMAD report coincided with the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, which, for the media sector at least, showed an ongoing correlation between sliding trust in government and media, a general collapse of trust in democracies, and deep fears of fake news.
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