Statistics from the Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute.

Greeks are the only Europeans that trust social media more than their country’s legacy media

Researchers from the Reuters Institute had a deeper look

The annual Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for Journalism reveals that Greeks distrust news media more than any other country in Europe. In fact, we are the only country in the world that trusts social media more than news media. There are wide variations in trust across our 36 countries. The proportion that says they trust the news is highest in Finland (62%), but lowest in Greece and South Korea (23%).

“The media market in Greece is characterised by very low levels of trust in journalism, high use of social media for news and extreme fragmentation of the online news market.”

In countries like the US (20%/38%), and the UK (18%/41%), people are twice as likely to trust the news media. Only in Greece do more people think social media is doing a better job, primarily because they have very low confidence in news media (28%/19%).

Only in Greece do more people trust social media (19%/28%) but this has more to do with the low opinion of the news media in general than the quality of information in their news feeds.

Greece is in the last rank.

The study was conducted online, and took a sample of 70,000 participants from all around the globe. Out of the 36 countries surveyed, Greeks had the most significant concerns about political and business interests affecting news organisations. Only 6% think the media is free from political or business influence, and 23% trust news overall.

Even though 95% of Greeks use the internet to stay informed about current affairs, no brand is used regularly (more than three days per week) by more than 15% of the population. On average, Greeks use more online media brands than any other country surveyed, apart from Turkey. The list of frequently visited websites includes some that are know to advance conspiracy theories.

Half the respondents in Greece (57%) and Turkey (57%) are avoiding the news, compared with fewer than one in ten in Japan (6%). Countries like Greece and Turkey are undergoing considerable economic and political turmoil, which may be a contributory factor to high levels of avoidance, but it is not easy to identify a clear pattern.

Antonis Kalogeropoulos, a Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism reports about Greece.

“In the long-tail list of the most visited websites, alongside traditional news brands we see some news websites that regularly engage in conspiracy theories about health and political issues.
Very few Greeks are prepared to pay for online news (6%), which is not surprising given that only a handful of broadsheet newspaper websites have set up paywalls.
Other reasons include the lack of credibility of news, the large decreases in personal incomes following the economic crisis, and the lack of culture of online payments in general. Ad-blockers are also at record levels in Greece (57% of Greeks below 35 use one) while high levels of offsite news consumption (69% of Greeks use social media for news) further limit monetisation opportunities for publishers. These data points portray a dystopian landscape for online news publishers in Greece.
Facebook remains the most widely used platform for news (62% use it), while 32% of Greeks use YouTube for news content.
Participation via commenting and sharing news is also at high levels in Greece, an indication of the polarised political environment and mistrust in journalistic content.”
Globally, despite the fact that over half (54%) of respondents get news from social media, only 24% believe it manages to separate fact from fiction, whereas 40% believe news media accomplishes this fundamental task.”

A staggering 69% of the population use social media as a news source. Facebook is used by 62% of the population, and YouTube is second at 32%. Levels of commenting and engaging on social media are high, indicating the highly polarised environment.

The survey found that only 6% of Greeks pay for online news. What is more, ad-blocker use is at very high levels, with 35% of all Greeks using one and 57% of those below the age of 35.

In sharp contrast to the growing online engagement, Sunday newspaper sales have fallen by 25%. Looking further back, the decrease is more severe. In 2008, 1.2 million Sunday newspapers were sold; a number sharply reduced to 300,000 in 2016.

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