In the face of the global rise of disinformation, journalists’ credibility, trust, and accountability is under increasing scrutiny by the public. With that in mind, professors Marc-François Bernier (University of Ottawa) and Marie-Eve Carignan (Université de Sherbrooke) have led an extensive survey of Quebec-based media to better understand how the fake news phenomenon has affected trust in the province’s news providers.
The bilingual questionnaire surveyed 1,598 Quebec residents in April 2023 and uncovered:
- Media credibility is down despite respondents saying they accept events being reported on by journalists did occur.
- Nearly half of respondents believe journalists contribute to creating fake news.
- 71% believe journalists allow their coverage to be led by their own political beliefs.
- It’s nearly a 50-50 split over the belief government subsidies sway how a journalist covers its leaders; it is a similar split whether journalists’ interests are led by their own organizations or by the public interest.
- 41% believe journalists attempt to cover up their mistakes.
- A respondents political affiliation sways their perception and opinion of the media with conservative-leaning ideology is more critical.
- Quebecers may not completely see the Quebec Press Council as an accountable organizational body.
While Quebec trust in the media is fragile, there is optimism:
- Over 50% believe that journalists who work a beat or enjoy knowledge of specific topics accurately report the news.
- 76% continue to digest their news through traditional platforms with TV identified as the most trustful or trusted source for news.
- Half of respondents believe journalists value public comments and criticism.
“It is rare to find such a detailed survey of journalists and media credibility in Quebec, including how much confidence they are afforded – and not.”
— Full Professor in Communication at uOttawa’s Faculty of Arts
“It is rare to find such a detailed survey of journalists and media credibility in Quebec, including how much confidence they are afforded – and not. We wanted to go beyond general impressions and identify indicators related to credibility and confidence. This survey will enrich debates at the Festival International de Journalisme de Carleton-sur-Mer, which comes as the Quebec Press Council celebrates its 50th anniversary.”
– Marc-Francois Bernier, Full Professor in Communication at uOttawa’s Faculty of Arts.
“Confidence in the media is fragile and the rise of disinformation has created a lot of confusion with the public.”
— Professor in Communication and Co-chair in Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism.
“Coming out of a pandemic that generated a lot of mistrust towards different institutions, it was essential to better understand the rapport Quebecers have with the media. While respondents signalled they have more trust in traditional media outlets, we noted mistrust and hesitation from some regarding journalistic practices. This signals the need to better educate the public on the deontology and ethics of the profession. Confidence in the media is fragile and the rise of disinformation has created a lot of confusion with the public. Half of the correspondents believe journalists contribute to broadcasting fake news, confounding this same phenomenon with potential journalistic errors and inexactitudes.”
– Marie-Eve Carignan, Professor in Communication and Co-chair in Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism.
Full research findings can be consulted here (in French).
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