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Audio’s Trust Scores Jump In New Survey; Radio Is Tops, And Podcasting Has Biggest Gains.


In an era where surveys about consumer trust in media have delivered a steady drumbeat of dour headlines, there is good news for audio, and in fact for all of media. The U.S. media’s credibility is no longer in free fall, says the decision intelligence company Morning Consult. It has released new research showing that audio is especially well-positioned for trust as a news source. Not only is radio the most-trusted media, but podcasts had the biggest increase in trust during the past four years.


Morning Consult says its survey of U.S. adults finds 63% say they have either “a lot” or “some” trust in radio, a three-point increase from 2020. That is two points ahead of network news, and a nearly 20-point advantage over social media, which has the lowest trust scores in the survey.


At the same time, Morning Consult says podcasting had the biggest growth in trust during the past four years. Its latest survey finds 47% of adults say they have some trust in the medium. The gains are even larger among Gen Z listeners where nearly half (49%) say they now trust podcasts as a news source. That is up from 29% in 2020.


Morning Consult theorizes that the increase in podcast trust scores has been bolstered by the industry pivot from audio to video.


“The shareability of podcasts has been boosted as clips make their way to Instagram and TikTok, growing new audiences among Gen Z and millennials and gaining trust at the same time,” writes Deputy Head of Industry Analysis Amy He in a newly released report. She also points out that even though Gen Z’s trust in social media is among the lowest of all media channels, most of their consumption of the news is occurring there. “Though they may not be turning to traditional sources of news, younger consumers are helping drive increased trust in social media and podcasts, both of which have become crucial distribution channels for news and will likely continue to grow in importance in the coming years,” says He.


Overall, Morning Consult says perceptions of the media have recovered since 2020. On average, 55% of U.S. adults in a new Morning Consult survey describe nine leading outlets to be at least “somewhat credible,” which is four percent higher than in 2020 when it fell to historic lows. The data shows the gains are driven largely by Republicans, whose perceptions of several outlets increased by double digits. One possible reason is that with former President Donald Trump out of the White House, there is less of contentious back-and-forth between him and the media.


Morning Consult also points out that Democrats traditionally have had more confidence in news organizations, although it notes that Democrats gave the press better trust scores in 2022 than they do today.


The report also found that there are sizable differences among age groups. Morning Consult says that a majority (60%) of Millennials and 55% of Baby Boomers and Gen X had trust in nine major outlets tested to be credible, compared to 46% for Gen Z. Television networks saw the most severe gaps. It says some Gen Zs have never even heard of networks like CBS, NBC, or MSNBC.


Download the full study HERE.

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