Despite the trend for politicians and others to dismiss reporting as “fake news,” a majority of Canadians say they have some level of trust in traditional news media, according to a new poll.
The Ipsos poll, conducted on behalf of the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), found that 69 per cent of respondents have some level of trust when it comes to mainstream news media. Fifty per cent of respondents said they have a “fair amount” of trust in the media and just 12 per cent said they have a “great deal of trust.”
“If you talk about traditional media, people say, ‘Yeah, they do a good job of reporting the facts,'” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs. “But when [the media] moves beyond that, [people] start to have questions.”
Canadians 35 and over tend to be more trusting than those 18-34, the poll suggests. Across the country, Quebecers (80 per cent) are the most trusting of traditional news media, while Alberta (58 per cent) and B.C. are the least trusting.
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Canadians’ trust and confidence in the mass media is significantly higher than their American counterparts, with just 32 per cent saying they have a fair amount of trust in the media, according to a Gallup poll released in September 2016.
U.S. President Donald Trump may have championed the weaponization of “fake news” to attack the media, but dismissing reports you don’t agree with has penetrated Canadian politics as well.
Canadian Senator Lynn Beyak faced a public backlash over her defence of the residential school system that led to calls for her resignation. Beyak pushed back, calling the reporting on the story “fake news and exaggeration.”
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Ontario’s economic development minister, Brad Duguid, also used “fake news” term to dismiss criticism of the taxpayer bailout of the MaRS technology hub in 2014, which he later apologized for.
However, politicians should take note: most Canadians side with the media in these situations.
The new polling numbers found in cases where government officials deny a story, 77 per cent of Canadians are more likely to believe the media than the government.
“The old quote used to be, ‘Don’t take on anyone who buys their ink by the barrel,” Bricker said. “It’s the same sort of thing here for the government.”
Here’s how Canadians said they accessed news this past month:
Which sources of news do Canadians trust most?
The Ipsos poll was conducted between May 5- 8, 2017, using a sample of 1,001 Canadians from Ipsos’s online panel. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.
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