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Swiss trust in news media in decline, says report

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A recent report by the Reuters Institute shows a fall in trust in news media in Switzerland. They survey shows that only 46% trust news overall. This is down 4% compared to the year before. The report suggests this is an effect of the debate around ‘fake news’ resulting from the presidential election in the US, a subject that dominated Swiss media at the time.

Despite the recent fall, Swiss confidence in news media is above the average of the 36 countries covered – the median is 43%. The US sits well below with 38%. At the top sits Finland (62%). Right down the bottom is South Korea (23%).

Trust in news in Switzerland declines with age. Above 55, 52% trust news overall, while only 32% of those under 25 do.

And while the report’s authors think the internet and social media may have exacerbated low trust and ‘fake news’, they find that in many countries the underlying drivers of mistrust have as much to do with deep-rooted political polarisation.

In deeply polarised countries, such as the US, the gap between trust in news overall (38%) and trust in the sources you use (53%) is large (15%). In Switzerland this gap is 9% (46% vs 55%). In Finland the gap is 7% (62% vs 69%).

The report also shows the dominance of the newspaper 20 Minutes online in Switzerland. 52% of German speakers said they went to the 20 Minuten website at least once a week. In French-speaking Switzerland the figure was 50%. These percentages were well ahead of the next most popular news websites: Blick and Blick am Abend online (35%) and Le Matin online (26%).

In the UK, the BBC online dominates online news. 47% of Brits visit BBC online at least once a week, far higher than second-placed Guardian online, with only 14%. In Switzerland, rather than coming first online, national broadcaster SSR SRG, comes in third with only 23% (German-speaking) and 24% (French-speaking) of the audience visiting at least once a week.

The political party UDC/SVP is not helping the plight of SSR SRG. It is one of the forces behind a referendum, due for vote in the summer of 2018, attempting to abolish the Billag licensing fee. If the vote is successful the broadcaster will come under serious funding pressure.

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