Survey: Local papers more trusted source than councils

Almost twice as many people believe independent media businesses offer a more trustworthy source of local information than council-run publications, according to a survey.

Non-council independently-owned media sources were felt by 63 per cent of respondents to the Newspaper Society survey to be a particularly trustworthy source compared to 37 per cent who opted for council sources.

The NS, which campaigns on behalf of local and regional newspapers, commissioned TNS-RI Omnibus to conduct a study of more than 1,000 people’s attitudes to local sources of information as part of Local Newspaper Week.

The poll found that regional TV news (40 per cent) and local newspapers (36 per cent) were the most trusted sources of ‘unbiased information about the local council or other local public bodies”.

Of those polled, 20 per cent felt council publications provided the most reliable source while 23 per cent believed council websites were the more trustworthy.

Among frequent readers, local newspapers (42 per cent) were believed to be the most trusted source of unbiased information ahead of the second choice regional TV news (36 per cent).

Despite recent criticism that local papers have cut back on council reporting as staff numbers dwindled and resources became scarcer, nearly two-thirds of readers (63 per cent) said they were happy with the amount of information about their local council or other public bodies in their local newspaper or its website.

The study found that 81 per cent believed they would be worse off in terms of knowing about the day-to-day business of their council if there wasn’t a local newspaper in their area, 85 per cent believed it was important that the local paper kept them informed about local council issues.

Asked who they would contact first if they wanted to raise awareness of a local issue or problem, 60 per cent said local newspapers, 15 per cent cited council publications and 11 per cent said local radio stations. National newspapers were chosen by six per cent of people and regional TV news stations were chosen by five per cent.

This study follows up a similar survey by the Newspaper Society which last week found that eight out of ten local newspaper editors believed accessing information from public bodies has become increasingly difficult in recent years.

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