Websites 'more trustworthy' than newspapers

Britons are more likely to believe a news story they read on a website than if it appeared in an offline publication such as a newspaper, new media research reveals.

In its annual audit of media literacy, Ofcom found levels of trust in news portals (63 per cent) has now surpassed that of newspapers (46 per cent).

News broadcast via the radio continues to trump news websites in terms of its trustworthiness, but marginally loses out to the most trusted news medium of all – television.

Ofcom said the big screen remains the most accessed, familiar and popular media platform for people to choose, with most respondents understanding its function, including the watershed, and financing.

Yet understanding of the capabilities of television post-millennium is at best nascent, given one in three consumers is unaware of digital services, via the TV or internet.

The remaining 77 per cent admitted to knowing about digital services but just 30 per cent used them, suggesting television is mainly used in ‘traditional terms,’ Ofcom said.

Take up and usage of digital platforms among minority ethnic groups is higher than the UK average, but the regulator said this was partly because this group has more young people than the population as a whole.

Among these respondents, levels of trust in news, knowledge of funding and regulation of the media platforms is collectively lower than the UK average.

Overall awareness of media platforms, a central indicator of media literacy, is lowest among the over-65s, Ofcom said, adding that this age group rarely accesses the internet anywhere other than in their home.

Conversely, one in three UK adults of younger ages, spend more than 15 hours a week online, making them ‘heavy internet users’ in Ofcom’s eyes.

Most people using the internet said they do so to access information, while 75 per cent of these said they will check e-mail once a week.

However concerns about identity theft, spam and viruses troubles one in three users, while concern about online content is higher online than any other than media platform.

By contrast, just one in ten UK adults are concerned about content on TV, most often due to material they deem offensive.

Despite woes about content, the highest area of interest for many of the 3,000 respondents was learning how to use the internet.

A further third of participants said they preferred to learn more about digital platforms and services, whether they are available through their TV or computer screens.

The wider findings on the UK’s media literacy level can be viewed below, with further in-depth reports on literacy among minority ethnic groups, older people and those in devolved nations expected to follow later in 2006:


6th March 2006

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