April 15, 2020

Trust in most media during the Coronavirus pandemic is brittle

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 8374
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Australians need to be able to rely on media for the latest advice and information during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, yet trust in media outlets remains disappointingly low, as a special media industry distrust risk survey by Roy Morgan has found.

Research firm Roy Morgan measures consumer distrust, and the risk it poses to companies, across 25 industries. As a whole, media is the third most distrusted of the 25 industries and it has had the largest increase in distrust of any industry over the past 8 months.

The key media brands which buck the trend, those which are highly trusted by Australians, are the ABC, SBS and Netflix, while the most trusted key tech brands, a significant conduit for media content, include Apple and Microsoft.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says amid the first global pandemic in a century, consumer trust is critical for all businesses, but particularly so for media, which is delivering vital information in a rapidly changing environment.

“During the pandemic, Australians are eager to utilise trusted media brands to keep up-to-date with the latest messages from Government and to find out the latest developments.

“The high trust ratings for the ABC and SBS, which reflect their reputations for honesty, high quality service, independence and objective information, give these two media brands a head start in attracting large audiences. While Netflix is not a news service, its high trust rating bodes well for a service that is set to be accessed at a higher rate than ever before while Australians are stuck at home.”

However these are standouts in an industry where more key brands are distrusted than are trusted. 
Drivers of this distrust include a perceived lack of independence, perceived bias, the view that they are and not presenting honestly held opinions, that they are not protecting or respecting privacy, and generally being viewed as ‘dishonest’ and ‘fake’. 

Ms. Levine says these brands risk their market share if they fail to address distrust and mishandle messaging during the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic is introducing a great deal of stress into the business environment across the board. Many large advertisers are re-evaluating their marketing budgets with media outlets as consumers tighten their belts and discretionary purchases are curtailed.

“These impacts are already being felt strongly by media companies. Those which have a net distrust rating among consumers are most at risk, as people seek out trusted brands to find value in their news consumption.”

Roy Morgan’s ongoing risk monitor shows that levels of trust and distrust for individual companies can change quickly. This variability means regular tracking of the pulse of the community is vital.


To gain a greater understanding of Roy Morgan’s Trust and Distrust Program or to understand more about your own industry or brand contact Roy Morgan.

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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