Fake News Relies On Least Trusted Papers Being The Best Read

People talk about trust in digital marketing, particularly since GDPR. But take a look at the British media and there is a complete disconnect in the UK media where all those ad dollars are flowing.

The simplest way of putting it is that the titles we trust the least are the ones that get the most uniques per month. The ones we trust the most lag behind.

That is the stark finding from Pamco figures reported on in Campaign. The overall picture is that nine in ten people think reading a publication is time well spent and an average of four in five people trust what they are reading.

When you drill down to titles, however, there is confirmation of what we all probably suspect. The Guardian comes out on top as the most trusted UK title -- 84% trust what they read on the paper's site, with The Independent just behind by a couple of percentage points.

Trust levels are halved at the other end of the spectrum, with just 39% trusting The Sun, and MailOnline is only marginally more trusted, at 46%. 

It is a similar story for "time well spent" ratings, with The Guardian in the lead and The Telegraph and The Independent in joint second -- scoring 96%, and 95%, respectively. This drops to four in five MailOnline readers.

So the quality titles we expect to be trusted are doing great, and people think reading news there is time well spent. Surely this must relate to readership figures?

Well, actually it doesn't. As Campaign's maths shows, The Sun and The Mail are the most-read titles, when print and online are combined. TheTelegraph, Guardian and Independent are in third, fourth and sixth place (The Mirror is in fifth). 

So we have an odd situation. The titles people trust the most are not read as widely by as many people as those that we trust the least. 

What this says about fake news is alarming. If people are willing to spend time looking at papers they don't actually believe in, is it any wonder that fake news is such an issue?

Clearly, sensationalist, nationalist headlines are what gets eyeballs, as well as the sidebar of shame for whichever Z list celeb is wearing a bikini on holiday on any particular day.

One can presume this disconnect could well apply beyond that national daily press and that people are spending time on sites that they don't trust, allowing phony views and alternative facts a lot more attention than perhaps they should. 

Clearly, we consume media for entertainment rather than factual content alone, and that is a very troubling finding for anyone hoping the era of fake news will be eradicated by a sharp-thinking public denying it the attention it deserves. 

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