The most trusted media source in the world in 2015 is online search engines. That statistic comes from a study by Edelman of internet users in 15 countries across the globe.

The Growing Trust in Search Engines

Traditional media sources have been losing ground to online search engines when it comes to trust for years. Edelman began tracking media trust in 2012 when traditional media sources were trusted by 67% of internet users and online search engines were trusted by 62% of internet users. The gap has been steadily closing since then, and the 2015 study marked the first time that internet users trusted online search engines (64%) more than traditional media sources (62%).

The trust gap between online search engines and traditional media is even bigger among younger audiences. Edelman’s report reveals that 72% of millennials trust online search engines while only 64% trust traditional media sources.

Edelman also ranked internet users’ trust of hybrid media (a combination of traditional and digital media), social media, and owned media. Hybrid media ranked third in 2015 in terms of trust after online search engines and traditional media with 53% of internet users trusting it. That’s fairly consistent with trust levels for hybrid media since 2012 when it was trusted by 52% of internet users.

Social media ranked fourth in terms of trust with 48% of internet users trusting social media sources. This shows an increase in trust in social media from 45% in 2012. Similarly, owned media was trusted by 47% of internet users who responded to the Edelman survey, which is an increase from the 44% who trusted owned media in 2012.

Search Engines Are the Most Used Media Source

Study participants were also asked to identify the media sources they turn to first for general information about business, and online search engines took the top spot.

General Business Information

In total, 31% of internet users visit online search engines first when they’re looking for information about business, which is significantly more than the number of people who turn first to television (22%) or newspapers (21%) for business information. This creates a very different picture than the one that existing in 2013 when 25% of internet users turned first to online search engines, 25% turned first to newspapers, and 24% turned first to television to get general business information.

Breaking Business News

When it comes to getting breaking business news, Edelman found that 27% of internet users turn first to online search engines. Similarly, 27% first turn to television while only 18% first turn to newspapers for breaking business news. This is only slightly different than Edelman’s findings in 2013 when 28% of internet users first turned to television for breaking news, 26% first turned to search engines, and 20% first turned to newspapers.

Confirmation and Validation of Business News

Where the data from the study gets most interesting is when you look at the sources internet users use the most often to confirm or validate business news. Online search engines are used most often by 37% of the study respondents, which is an increase from 34% in 2013. On the other hand, television is used most often by just 20% of internet users, and newspapers are used most often by only 18% of internet users. Both television and newspapers are used less frequently for news validation in 2015 than they were in 2013 when they were used most often by 22% and 19% of internet users, respectively.

The trend away from traditional media to online search engines for trustworthy information and news is one that has been happening for years, and it shows no signs of reverting to the way it used to be. The Edelman study researched how people looked for business news and information, but it’s probably safe to assume that these results would be similar for most other categories of news and information. Would you agree? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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