Search Engines Surpass Traditional Media As Most Trusted Source for News

For years, traditional media has been considered the most trusted source for information. Before there was radio or television, people sought out newspapers to get the news. In later years, in addition to newspapers, people turned to the radio and eventually television as their go-to authorities for official word of the day’s events. But, with each passing year, our affinities have evolved, and in 2015—for the first time ever—traditional media is no longer considered to be the most trusted news source.

According to survey data from the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, Online Search Engines have become our primary platforms of choice when seeking out news and information. In recent years, search engines had been a close second, but this year was the first time they surpassed Traditional Media by two percentage points.

Search Engines

Following Traditional Media is Hybrid Media, then Social Media and Owned Media—platforms over which a brand has complete control, such as a website or a blog. The latter two have seen a steady increase over the last two years, whereas Hybrid Media, which is the combined use of traditional and new media, has steadied. In a world where information is instantaneous, these findings aren’t too surprising.

Millennials’ trust in overall digital media is much stronger than the average population, and the gap between the percentages of trust is much more drastic with 72 percent of Millennials trusting Search Engines, as compared to the 64 percent of the larger, informed public population. For Traditional Media, Millennial’s trust is at 64 percent and the average population’s trust is at 62 percent. Trust in Hybrid Media is at 63 percent for Millennials and 53 percent for the public. Trust in Social Media is at 59 percent for Millennials and 48 percent for the public and Owned Media trust is at 57 percent for Millennials and 47 percent for the public.

Another interesting point iterated in the survey is when it comes to creating content for social networking sites and other online-only sources, journalists aren’t considered to be the most trusted source. Instead, one’s family and friends are considered more trusted. In fact, a company creating content is a more trusted author than a journalist.

What is fascinating about these findings is that it’s Search Engines that are most trusted, not the sites whose content is aggregated to the search engine. The websites that aggregate to search engines would be considered Owned Media, which according to this survey is the least trusted media. If people don’t trust the websites, then why do they trust the search engines that aggregate them? Is it because that is the easiest and fastest way to gather the exact information you need? We suppose kudos can be attributed to recent Google algorithms that have ensured that good, trustworthy information lands on its front page, in turn making itself a reliable source.

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