Trust in a time of crisis

This week sees the release of the TouchPoints Self-Completion Questionnaire data on the Mediatel Connected platform.

During the time of national crisis, when lockdown hit, when it was difficult to know who to trust, younger audiences rediscovered national newspaper brands.

This week sees the release of the TouchPoints Self-Completion Questionnaire data on the Mediatel Connected platform. This data covers 2019, 2020 and our Lockdown data and gives Mediatel Connected users access to the unique cross media insights only TouchPoints can provide. All of this with the added advantage of a perspective on the dramatic behavioural changes that occurred in our media consumption habits during those crucial first few weeks of full lockdown.

Also this week the Queen praised “trusted and reliable” news organisations in a strong endorsement for the News Media Association’s Journalism Matters campaign so to mark both occasions, we’ve taken a look at some of the TouchPoints data on news brands. After all, didn’t most of us develop a somewhat unhealthy obsession with news in those early days of lockdown?

I know in my house not a day went by when we didn’t check the daily cases nationally and internationally. We were glued to rolling news channels and, since working at home we’ve had the radio on for 10 hours a day.

News brands have had a pretty tough time in recent years in the face of falling physical sales so it was heartening to read last week that Reach has bounced back to profit after a very challenging first half of the year and this has been largely attributed to heavy investment in its digital offering.

Certainly, what we see from our 2020 TouchPoints data is a mixed picture for news brands where print circulation has taken a hit among younger readers but digital consumption is continuing to grow.

While we saw an 8% fall in those reading national newspapers more than once a week in print from 2019 to 2020 we noticed a 4% increase during Lockdown primarily driven by older readers no doubt turning to their trusted format for the latest updates; physical copies providing that reassuring sense of normality in what was a chaotic time.

Overall, digital access to national newspapers increased by 11% from 2019 to 2020 but it was mobile specifically that saw the largest lockdown platform increase of 9%. In particular, 15-24’s 1+ a week access to newspaper brands on a mobile increased 27% during Lockdown as our need for fast news increased.

Part of the reason for this growth is surely the trust many readers have in news brands and that trust becomes even more important in times of national crisis.

Trust in national newspapers grew 9% overall during lockdown but perhaps surprisingly, grew by 15% among 15-24s who’s trust for websites fell by 18% in those early weeks.

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When we want reliable, credible information we value editorially led sources and the uplift in trust we’ve seen for national newspaper brands demonstrates the value we continue to attribute to these sources when facts matter.

All of these figures, and more, are now available in Mediatel Connected.

Graeme Griffiths is Head of Research at the IPA.

Last updated 07 October 2020