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“Greater the trust, greater the revenues”: Key takeaways from WAN-IFRA’s World Press Trends report

The impact of trust on the performance of news and the revenues of news media companies worldwide is undeniable, according to the findings of WAN-IFRA’s annual World Press Trends report.

This year’s report WAN-IFRA—the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers—is a study in contradictions, much like the state of the industry it is reporting on. For example, while the study finds that trust in media is at an all-time low, at the same time the surprising discovery is that trust in journalists is significantly on the rise.

Trust in media may be at an all-time low but trust in journalists and quality journalism is on the rise, particularly compared to platforms.

The report analyses the data collected from WAN-IFRA’s annual survey of more than 70 countries, in addition to the insights and data from its global partners, including ZenithOptimedia, IPSOS, PwC, and Chartbeat.

“The past few years have seen unprecedented change in the media and publishing industry,” says Lisa MacLeod, South Africa Vice President of WAN-IFRA and one of the major contributors to this year’s World Press Trends report.

“Platforms have become a middleman between publishers and readers, world leaders have launched attacks on the media and press freedom, “fake news” proliferates, and advertising – both print and digital – is under pressure.”

More than ever, quality, trusted journalism not only matters, but is critical to citizens around the world.

Trust is one of the most important barometers of success

Publishers use more metrics in their business than ever before, measuring every aspect of how their audiences consume information, ideally to build a deeper understanding of their acquired tastes, reading habits, daily rhythms and much more, but, ultimately, so they can build a deeper, lasting relationship with each of them, the report states.

But none of that matters if trust is not at the heart of that relationship,” it concludes. “And never before has trust in media been under such siege as it is today.”

A number of studies have been published recently showing the eroding trust in not only media but also other institutions. Edelman’s 2018 annual Trust Barometer revealed that trust in media globally is at an all-time low…

Securing a trusted relationship with their audience is not only an economic imperative for publishers but also a social and democratic obligation, according to the World Press Trends report.

While trust in some news brands has increased because of more engaged quality journalism, skepticism about the veracity of what the public reads remains a growing concern.

Dramatic shifts are taking place at the market level and within the institution of media, the study found.

In 2018, actual trust in journalism jumped 5 points while trust in platforms dipped 2 points at the same time.

A number of factors are driving this paradox (trust in media declining vs. trust in quality journalism increasing). Confusion over the credibility of “news” is now connected to the broader definition of “media” that people now hold, i.e. some consider platforms to be part of “media” alongside journalism.

The impact of trust on the performance of publishers is massive, the report found. Greater the trust, greater the circulation, and greater the revenues.

“For the press, securing a trusted relationship with its audience is not only an economic imperative but also a social and democratic obligation,” said Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

“This year’s World Press Trends analysis shows that a lack of trust can cost publishers where it hurts most – with their audiences and advertisers, therefore impacting revenues. And, perhaps more profoundly, it is potentially costing them a central and pivotal role in their communities and society at large.”

How to make news trustworthy again

So how can publishers increase their trust quotient with their customers and target audience? Edelman Trust Barometer 2018 says the 5 key ways publishers can build trust are by fulfilling their mandates to:

  1. Be the guardian of information quality
  2. Protect ordinary people from abuses of power
  3. Supply information for good life decisions
  4. Check and balance other institutions
  5. Entertain and amuse

According to WAN-IFRA’s annual report, Edelman’s mandates are indeed a cornerstone for publishers to embed into their everyday mission to ensure a trusting relationship with their audiences and consumers.

In addition, the report goes in-depth on the various ways they believe that publishers can turn the current uproar over so-called “fake news” to their advantage.

Click here to access WAN-IFRA’s annual World Press Trends report

You can also join the conversation on “Takeaways from World Press Trends 2018 Report” on a free webinar with Francois Nel, Reader in Media Innovation at the Media Innovation Studio, University of Central Lancashire whose team at Innovation Research Group carried out much of the analysis, and will talk about the findings of the report during the webinar.

Join the webinar to get valuable insights into the World Press Trends report

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