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Trust rising in news ecosystem, Reuters finds

News moves inexorably online, but we are still reluctant to pay for it. Keystone

Long-term media trends remain stable, but trust and a willingness to pay for content is slightly up in Switzerland this year, according to the Reuters Digital News Report.

This content was published on June 14, 2018 - 21:11

Published on Thursday, the annual overview of online news across almost 40 countries wrote that, in general, “signs of hope” for the news industry are emerging after a turbulent period.

Across many of the countries surveyed, Reuters reported, the march of social media stalled somewhat, while ‘traditional’ publications staged a resurgence with models moving “towards higher quality content and more emphasis on reader payment”.

In Switzerland, where the media landscape was dominated in the past year by debates around the ‘No Billag’ initiative – as well as intensified (if less noticed) “concentration in the private media sector” – the trends were similar.

Trust in news in general is up 6 percentage points in the Alpine nation, where it now sits at 52%, similar to the level in neighbours France and Germany. Most trusted in Switzerland are public broadcaster RTS and SRF, as well as traditional newspapers Le Temps and NZZ.

+ Read more about the changes shaking media in Switzerland

Facebook dropped slightly as a source of news – one-third of Swiss cited it – while trust in news content on social media also remained low, at 22%. And after a year in which privacy concerns were high on the news agenda, a noticeable shift was in the numbers using ad-blocking software: up 10 percentage points to 29%.

The stalling of Facebook’s progress, in particular, reflects a wider international trend, the report noted: in the US those using the social network as a news source dropped 9 percentage points in the past year.

Nevertheless, the Swiss remain reluctant to reach into their wallets to pay for online news: just 12% do so, up a point from the previous year. In frontrunner France, just under half of those surveyed said they paid an online subscription.

That said, Switzerland does retain relatively high levels of print readership – still over a half of those surveyed – but the trend is clear, with the numbers falling by 8 percentage points over the past three years.

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