Most Indians trust news on Whatsapp, Reuters Institute study finds

Nearly 46 percent of the Indians surveyed use Whatsapp for news on a daily basis.

ByNL Team
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Most Indians trust news on Whatsapp, Reuters Institute study finds
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News on digital platforms is trusted less than news in general, a new study released on Thursday by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism suggests. In India, the study says, the majority of the people trust news they receive on Whatsapp and use the messaging app to get news on a daily basis.

The study, which is part of the institute’s Trust in News Project, examines “the relationship between trust in news and how people think about news on digital platforms”, focusing on Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and YouTube. The study is based on survey data from Brazil, India, the UK, and the US.

One of the key findings states that across the four countries, news on Google is trusted almost in parity with news overall. However, news on other platforms is viewed more skeptically. In India, the study states, “trust was also considerably higher across the board”, compared to the other three countries.

Seventy seven percent of the respondents in India trusted the news media in general. Forty one percent of the respondents trusted news on Facebook, 51 percent trusted news on Google, 27 percent trusted news on Instagram, 15 percent on Tik Tok, 25 percent on Twitter, 54 percent on Whatsapp; and 51 percent on YouTube.

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Source: The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Source: The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

“Despite comparatively lower trust in news on platforms, many hold broadly positive feelings towards them, especially Google and YouTube, as well as WhatsApp in Brazil and India,” the study states.

It also indicates that people who are interested in politics are more trusting of news on platforms. In India, those who are politically interested trust news the most on YouTube and the least on TikTok.

Source: The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Source: The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

On the usage of digital platforms, the study suggests that many people do not use them for news. “For most platforms, people are more likely to say they use them to connect with other people in their lives or for entertainment or to pass the time rather than to find out information about current affairs,” it says.

In India 46 percent of the people surveyed use Whatsapp for news on a daily basis, behind Brazil with 58 percent. Tiktok is used the least for news among platforms.

Source: The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Source: The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

The study also looks at the public perception of journalism and the finding makes for rather grim reading. “As many as half the respondents in all four countries say they believe journalists try to manipulate audiences to serve the agendas of powerful politicians or care more about getting attention than reporting the facts.”

Fifty eight percent of those surveyed in India believe journalists “try to manipulate the public to serve the agendas of powerful politicians”, whereas 57 percent think journalists independently verify information they report.

Further, 51 percent of the respondents in India believe YouTube gives misleading information.

Source: The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Source: The trust gap: how and why news on digital platforms is viewed more sceptically versus news in general, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

The Digital News Report 2022 released by the Reuters Institute earlier this year suggested that interest and trust in the news is declining almost everywhere. In India, among English-speaking online news consumers, overall trust in the news has marginally improved over the past year but, at 41 percent, it’s still just shy of the global average.

Watch this panel discussion to know more about the findings of the study.

Also see
Modi supporters are more ‘trusting’ of news coverage in India, finds Reuters research
Why digital newsrooms should do ‘less but better’ to prosper

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