newspapers trustA new report based on results of The Harris Poll of 2,537 U.S. adults in August 2014 reveals that online-only news sites (like Huffington Post and Yahoo! News) are trusted to deliver news fairly and accurately more by younger audiences than older audiences. In fact, the large and highly coveted millennial audience (people between the ages of 18 and 37) trust online-only news sites (63%) more than they trust network TV news (57%) and cable TV news (60%).

Other news sources didn’t fare much better in terms of trust ratings among millennials. Only 64% trust online news sites that are tied to existing/traditional news outlets (like CNN.com, FoxNews.com, or NYTimes.com). Just 65% trust national newspapers, and only 67% trust radio news sources. The most trusted news sources among millennials are local TV news and local newspapers, but each of those are only trusted by 71% of millennials.

The results for Generation X (people between the ages of 38 and 49) are similar with each source of news instilling a bit more trust in this audience. Online-only news sites were trusted by the fewest people in this demographic (65%), but network TV news and national newspapers were close behind (66%). Online news sites tied to existing/traditional news outlets ranked next (67%) followed by cable TV news (68%). The most trusted news sources for this age group is local TV news (79%) followed by local newspapers (75%), and radio (72%).

For Baby Boomers (people between the ages of 50 and 68), trust levels increased for all offline sources but decreased for online-only news sites in comparison to the two younger age groups. The fewest number of Baby Boomers trust online-only news sites (63%) followed by national newspapers (70%). Somewhat surprisingly, more Baby Boomers trust online news sites tied to existing/traditional news outlets (71%) than national newspapers (70%). Next, Baby Boomers trust cable TV news (71%) and network TV news (72%). The most Baby Boomers trust local TV news (84%), local newspapers (81%), and radio sources (80%).

The Matures demographic (people over the age of 69) have very different levels of trust then younger audiences. The fewest Matures trust online-only news sites (45%) followed, surprisingly, by national newspapers (60%). Online news sites tied to existing/traditional news outlets (65%) and network TV news sources (65%) ranked next followed by radio sources (70%) and cable TV news (71%). The largest number of Matures trust local TV news (82%) and local newspapers (78%).

What the Data Means for Authoritative Content Publishers

The good news for Authoritative Content publishers is that younger people, who will make up the future of news audiences, have more trust in online-only news sources than older people. There is a significant opportunity for Authoritative Content publishers to communicate their credibility and responsibility to publishing accurate and fair content in order to increase the levels of audience trust, particularly with younger people.

The Harris Poll also found that 82% of Americans access news from multiple sources, so it’s important to ensure your content is effectively distributed to ensure the largest audience has a chance to see it. Keep in mind, they access news through multiple sources, but in order to find the content that they’re interested in through those multiple sources, they’re often using social media, search engines, content aggregators, and so on first. Content promotion is still an essential part of building your audience!

Image: [Barzan] Qtr licensed CC BY-ND 2.0