Who trusts the news media? Exploring the factors shaping trust in the news media in German-speaking Switzerland

  • Dorothee Arlt University Bern, Institute of Communication and Media Studies
Keywords: media trust, media scepticism, political disenchantment, populist attitudes, news exposure

Abstract

Although a decline of trust in the news media can be observed in many countries, in international comparison, Switzerland is still considered one of the countries with a relatively high level of media trust. Nevertheless, knowledge concerning the factors that promote and hinder media trust in Switzerland is still limited. Building on the research on media trust and media scepticism, this study investigates the effects of political orientation, political disenchantment, populist attitudes, and news exposure on media trust. The study uses survey data (N = 1 019, 50% females, 50% males) on the Internet-using population of the German-speaking part of Switzerland, collected in June 2017. Examining media trust by assessing the characteristics of media coverage, two dimensions of trust were revealed: (1) trust in journalistic quality and (2) trust in the independence and impartiality of media coverage about political issues. Overall, the results demonstrate that the level of trust concerning these two dimensions is rather low, whereas the level of trust in journalistic quality is slightly higher than trust in the independence and impartiality of media coverage on political issues. Regarding possible explanations, the findings show that political disenchantment and populist attitudes, anti-establishment attitudes, and demand for people’s sovereignty are negatively related to media trust, while belief in the homogeneity of the people is positively related. Moreover, the results reveal that exposure to news via public television in Switzerland is positively associated with trust in journalistic quality, while the use of special news websites is negatively associated with both dimensions of trust. The implications for future research on media trust are discussed.

Published
2019-05-20
How to Cite
Arlt, D. (2019). Who trusts the news media? Exploring the factors shaping trust in the news media in German-speaking Switzerland. Studies in Communication Sciences, (2). https://doi.org/10.24434/j.scoms.2018.02.003
Section
General Section