Print media in the UK is the least trusted out of all European countries. In an annual survey of 33 countries (EU states as well as acceding and candidate countries), the UK comes last, a position it has held for 9 of the 10 years the survey has been conducted.
Other key findings in the report found that low levels of trust in the media, such as exists in the UK, was directly correlated with widespread concerns about disinformation.
Hacked Off Director Kyle Taylor said,
“Although regrettable, it comes as no surprise that the UK’s unregulated print media is the least trusted in Europe.
While broadcast media is regulated by Ofcom, and enjoys stronger levels of public trust, newspapers have persisted with the sham IPSO complaints-handler. In one year alone IPSO received 8,000 complaints about discrimination and just 1 was upheld, while the body has failed to establish a single standards investigation in over five years. Until newspapers become independently regulated, trust will continue to decline.
On how the lack of trust is a factor in the wider challenges facing the press, Taylor said:
“The editorial policy of the largest newspapers, which pursues sensationalism and clicks even when it is at the expense of facts and the lives of individuals caught up in media stories, is in danger of damaging the news media industry beyond repair. Declining trust will only undermine the profitability of the industry. The long-term solution is membership of an independent regulator to restore public faith. The old excuse that editorial policy is determined by the market and reader attitudes just doesn’t wash anymore: action must be taken to address these abysmally poor levels of trust.
On the press’ important role of accountability:
“How newspapers have reported on the coronavirus has been typical of some newspapers’ failure to properly fulfil its role of holding power to account. Too often, instead of scrutinizing the Government and the Opposition, newspapers have targeted members of the public.
“Only today, the Daily Mail has devoted a whole page to criticise individuals for raising concerns about Personal Protective Equipment in a BBC programme. It appears that for the Mail free speech is not for everyone. The greatest irony is that the BBC is regulated independently, including for political partisanship, whereas the Mail remains entirely unregulated. If the Mail is so concerned it can write to Ofcom: if the individuals named and attacked in the Mail’s coverage have concerns, they might as well write to Santa.
“Every other industry in the UK is properly regulated, from broadcast media, to legal services, to finance. Yet newspaper websites read by millions of people every day get away with intrusive and inaccurate reporting with little to no justice for those impacted. Citizens look to the media to speak truth to power and act in their interests. Too often, it targets and bullies them. Until newspapers join a recognised regulator that acts in the interests of the public, this will repeat.”
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Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.