News24 has for the fourth consecutive year been named as South Africa’s most trusted news source, according to the 2022 Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. The report was released on Wednesday.
The annual report surveyed 93 432 people in 46 countries and ranked South Africa second overall in terms of trust in media. It found that between 2019 and 2022, trust in media grew from 49% to 61% in the country.
Of the people surveyed in Africa, the report found that 61% of South Africans trusted most news, most of the time. This was compared to 58% in Nigeria and 57% in Kenya.
News24 scored 85% on the trust barometer, followed by eNCA on 84%. The rest of South Africa’s top ten trusted news brands are: BBC News, SABC News, Sunday Times, Mail & Guardian, TimesLive, The Citizen, EWN and regional or local newspapers.
In terms of growth, the report found that City Press, Sowetan and Daily Sun had grown by as much as six percentage points in 2022.
The report found that South African news publications were increasingly emphasising the importance of trust as part of their journalistic brand value. The institute acknowledges News24’s recent decision to change its slogan from “Breaking News. First” to “Trusted News. First”.
This move followed News24’s introduction of a subscription service for its premium investigative journalism, opinion and analysis in August 2020. In the 18 months after launch, News24 managed to convert 50 000 readers to paying subscribers.
News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson said he was extremely proud of his team for again grabbing the top spot in this survey. “Trust is to golden metric. Over the past year, we have exposed countless corrupt officials, unscrupulous businesspeople, sex offenders and dodgy politicians who abuse power and mislead the public. It is incredibly satisfying and a massive vote of confidence to know the public sees and appreciates this.”
In its global analysis of the 46 countries surveyed, the Reuters Institute found that much of the public was either turning away from important stories or selectively avoiding them. This included stories about the pandemic, the Russia/Ukraine war as well as the cost-of-living crisis. It also found that there was a general decline in trust and an overall declining interest in the news, although South Africa bucked the trend.