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Study: Two-thirds of Brits appreciate journalism more since Covid

07 Oct 2020  |  Michaela Jefferson 
Study: Two-thirds of Brits appreciate journalism more since Covid

The nation's appreciation of the value of journalism has increased 'significantly' since the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, according to a new study commissioned by national news brand marketing body Newsworks.

The 'World Without News' research, which included a survey of 2,000 people carried out once in February and again in August, found that 66% claimed to "appreciate and value journalism more since the global coronavirus pandemic began", rising to 77% among those under 35 years old.

The survey also saw 70% of respondents agree that a "world without journalism would harm democratic society".

“This research clearly shows the importance of trusted news and information. Journalism matters to increasingly large numbers of people who are relying on news brands more than ever, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic," said Jo Allan, managing director at Newsworks.

The research, commissioned by Newsworks in partnership with the NMA and Society of Editors, spanned a total of nine months between December 2019 and August 2020, and also included a 24-hour news diary by 1,100 people.

According to the study, which Allan said is Newswork's "biggest study to date", younger people have also been using news brands to verify information seen on social media. While 42% of under-35s said they had used social media more during the pandemic, seven in ten said they felt less anxious about a story once they had seen it confirmed in a news brand.

Also included in the research was a unique behavioural experiment, which deprived regular readers from consuming news brands, while a group of non-readers were asked to read a news brand every day for the same one week period.

Despite coming from two opposite viewpoints, the results of the experiment were "surprisingly similar" across the two groups, said Denise Turner, insight director at Newsworks.

"A world without news made people more anxious, less clear and less sure of their perspective on the world," Turner said.

"In short, the results showed us how news brands help us to navigate our lives and provide us with an orientation that just isn’t there when we are starved of news brands.”

Overall, the research identified six goals that consuming news helps individuals to achieve, including: connecting with others; understanding the world around us; and, helping us, as individuals, to thrive.

Commenting on the news, NMA deputy chief executive Lynne Anderson said: “Trusted journalism produced by local and national news media titles is an essential part of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"But the industry needs urgent action from Government on a number of fronts – tackling the overweening power of the tech giants, promoting verifiable news sources, and initiating targeted support initiatives - so that it can continue to perform this vital role and deliver the journalism we all want to read.”

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors added: "It was always understood that the public supported a free press and recognised the need for the mainstream media with its ability to provide well researched, balanced, correctly edited news content and the proof has been provided by the numbers in which people have turned to trusted journalism for news and information during this pandemic.

"The figures supported by this research underscore the public's understanding of the value of the news content that the press provides in the UK."

‘World Without News’ will be presented at an event, hosted by Mediatel Events and Mediatel News, on 16 October, when the full findings will be made available. Register for free here.

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