ODT remains most trustworthy amid 'exceptionally worrying' trend

Photo: ODT
Photo: ODT
The Otago Daily Times is the most trustworthy news brand in the country, according to the latest AUT Trust in News in Aotearoa New Zealand report.

The 2024 report, authored by Dr Merja Myllylahti, AUT centre for Journalism, Media and Democracy (JMD) co-director and Dr Greg Treadwell, finds, however, that while interest in news in New Zealand is high, trust in news continues rapidly to decline and news avoidance is increasing.

The study’s findings show trust in news in general fell significantly from 42% in 2023 to 33% (-9%) in 2024 and the proportion of those who actively avoid the news to some extent grew from 69% in 2023 to 75% (+6%) in 2024.  

TVNZ has remained the biggest source of news for New Zealanders, but Facebook has become the second most important source of news, despite a drop in its trustworthiness.

Dr Myllylahti said journalism had lost its authority as the main source of news and information.

‘‘In general, people distrust the information they see, and they are increasingly checking their ‘facts’ themselves. This phenomenon is highly problematic.’’

Otago Daily Times Editor Paul McIntyre. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
Otago Daily Times Editor Paul McIntyre. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
In 2024, all the major New Zealand news brands suffered declines in trust.

The ODT was followed by RNZ and NBR as the second most trustworthy sources.

TVNZ, Newsroom, other commercial radio stations and BusinessDesk were jointly regarded as the third most trustworthy sources.

ODT editor-in-chief Paul McIntyre said while the results were gratifying for the ODT’s journalism - focusing on keeping major institutions honest, providing balanced and fair reporting without opinion - the news in general was exceptionally worrying.

‘‘These results should be concerning for not just the media, but society as a whole.’’

It did not help when some politicians undermined the media.

‘‘Do we really want a world where social media is the only place where people get their news? There is an increasing amount of misinformation on social media, in addition to information tailored to people’s searches, which then doesn’t allow for opposing opinions to be read or listened to. Democracy will be the loser if this continues to grow.’’

Dr Treadwell said trust in news and news outlets kept declining and journalists and media companies needed urgently to form relationships with their audiences and with communities to rebuild that trust.

In 2024, the proportion of those who are paying for digital news grew slightly from 23% in 2023 to 24% in 2024.

When compared internationally, New Zealanders are in third place after Norway and Sweden in paying for news. 

The Trust in Aotearoa News in New Zealand report was produced in collaboration with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

For the 2024 report, 1,033 New Zealand adults (18 years of age or over) were surveyed between February 12-16, 2023, by Horizon Research.

The survey has a maximum margin of error at the 95% confidence level for the total sample of ±3.0%.