Only 36% of Walloons say they have confidence in the news, compared to 51% in Flanders, according to the recent annual Digital News report by Reuters Institute for the study of journalism.
The study, released on Thursday, involves 40 countries around the world.
Some of the key findings of the study from all countries include:
– Less than four in ten (38%) said they trust most news most of the time and less than half (46%) said they trust the news they use themselves.
– The majority (60%) still prefer news that has no particular point of view and that only a minority (28%) prefer news that shares or reinforces their views.
– There has been a significant increase in payment for online news, however, across all countries most people are still not paying for online news. In Belgium, 11% of Walloons and 12% of Flemings say they pay for news online.
– In most countries, local newspapers remain the top source for news about a particular town or region, reaching four in ten (44%) weekly. However, Facebook and other social media networks are now used on average by around a third (31%) for local news and information, putting further pressure on local media and their business models.
– 60% agree that media has helped them to understand the coronavirus crisis, and in making clear what people can do personally to mitigate the impact (65%).
Media trust in Belgium
In Belgium, RTBF Info received the most confidence among respondents (74%), followed by Le Soir (69%) and La Première (67%).
In the north of the country, VRT Nieuws ranks first (78%), followed by Radio 1 (75%) and De Standaard (74%).
Ike Picone, researcher at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), who helped compile the Belgian data, notes that the Belgian regional difference is similar to the distinction between the neighbouring countries of Belgium.
“In the Netherlands, confidence in media rises to 52% while in France, it reaches only 23%. Trust in the media is also linked to the economic situation of citizens and Flanders is a region richer than the Wallonia,” Picone says.
The smartphone has, for the first time, surpassed the computer as the preferred means to obtain information. Print newspapers continue to decline, dropping 12% in five years, the report says.