In the wake of Bill C-18, Kaiser & Partners’ 2023 data reveals both consumption and trust in news sources varies among generations

TORONTO, ON–In its third annual survey on trust and credibility in news sources, Kaiser & Partners, Inc. (K&P) found that Canadians across generations agree that news delivered by well-known journalists (45%), interview commentary from local experts (36%) and content from government sources (28%) all increase the validity of a news story. However, a quarter (26%) of Gen Z respondents1 also report they are more likely to trust the validity of news if it has been broadly shared across social media channels. Highlights:

• Canadians across generations agree that established news media (55%) remains the most credible source of information, followed by public health agencies (32%) and governments (29%).

• The survey also revealed an increase in online news consumption from established sources, televised news, news on social media and radio. These platforms have seen the largest increase in reported year-over-year consumption over the past three years and across generations.

• Many Millennials (66%) and most Gen Z respondents (85%) report seeking Canadian news on social media channels versus traditional news platforms. A quarter (26%) of Gen Z respondents also report they would be more likely to trust the validity of news if it has been broadly shared across social channels.

• Canada’s Online News Act (Bill C-18) and the ban of media outlets by Meta is reported to be eroding trust in media by a quarter (26%) of Canadians, with millennials (31%) and Gen Z (29%) most likely to hold this view.

While all generations agree that established news media remains the most credible, younger Canadians also find credibility in social and expert content. When asked to identify the sources they find most credible, all generations surveyed indicated established news sources (55%). However, baby boomers are twice as likely (68%) than Gen Z (33%) to find established news sources the most credible. Information released by governments is also considered credible for 23 per cent of the youngest respondents (Gen Z and millennials) compared to 32 per cent of the eldest respondents (baby boomers).
Generations are more divided when it comes to other sources, with Gen Z finding less credibility in public health agencies (11%) than the national average (32%). On the other hand, Gen Z respondents are more likely to assign credibility to content from social media experts (23%) and general social media content (23%) than their baby boomer counterparts (7% and 4%, respectively).

“Social media has given everyone a platform and the ability to contribute to conversations around news,” said Janine Allen, president and partner, Kaiser & Partners. “While accessibility and participation are important, it’s equally important to be able to differentiate between commentator, influencer and expert. With increased access to information comes increased responsibility – for media, content creators, public relations and communications professionals – to ensure that shared information is always backed by fact-checked data.”

Younger Canadians relying largely on online sources and social media for news
Overall, Canadians report turning more to online news from traditional media sources (22%), watching more broadcast TV news (21%) as well as reading more news on social media (15%) compared to last year. These three platforms have witnessed the largest increase in reported year-over-year consumption over the past three years and across generations.

When asked which channels they currently use to seek Canadian news, less than a third (31%) of Gen Z respondents reported seeking news from traditional channels. Instead, 85 per cent said they would use social media channels first, notably YouTube (41%), Instagram (38%) and TikTok (33%). On the contrary, baby boomers report relying on traditional channels (83%) to get their news. Among traditional channels, televised news was reported as the top choice for 46 per cent of all generations surveyed, followed by newspapers (print and online, 36%) and radio (27%). Baby boomers (68%) are the most likely to turn to televised news sources.

Younger Canadians have also turned up the dial on the amount of social media content they consume, as nearly a quarter (24%) of Gen Z respondents say they spend more time reading news and information on social media platforms than last year. This increase has accelerated from what was observed in 2022, when just nine per cent of Gen Z respondents reported that their social media usage had increased since the previous year.

“Despite social media platforms dominating how younger Canadians consume their news, our findings also signal an interesting upward trend toward radio, podcast and overall online news,” Allen continued. “This underscores the importance of supporting traditional media in a digital world, and it is encouraging to see that Canadians appreciate and trust reporters, local experts and official sources across generations. This also emphasizes the need for PR and communications professionals to continue working with media to deliver trustworthy content that will meet audiences where they are.”

A quarter of Canadians believe that Canada’s Online News Act (Bill C-18) and Meta’s media ban are eroding their trust in the media. Recent policy changes and barriers to consuming news online and via social media have impacted Canadians’ trust levels, with 26 per cent of those surveyed indicating Canada’s Online News Act (Bill C-18) and the ban of media outlets by Meta have eroded their trust in the media. Millennials (31%) and Gen Z (29%), who consume their news largely on social platforms, are more likely to report that Bill C-18 and the Meta ban have caused them to trust media less.

“Canadians are used to having information at their fingertips and trust in the media is not something that should be taken lightly,” said Allen. “Unfortunately, introducing one extra step – such as going directly to the news source for fair, unbiased reporting – could be a deterrent for consumers who are used to finding information with one click. As PR and communications professionals, it’s important to understand how this change impacts Canadian media, traditional PR measurement and daily news consumption.”

About Kaiser & Partners
In a complicated and constantly evolving world, clear and meaningful communications have never been more important. At Kaiser & Partners, we offer a full suite of strategic, integrated and bilingual public relations services through several expert-led practice groups: marketing communications, corporate communications, digital communications, financial services, technology, and public affairs, providing solutions that influence positive business outcomes.

This Maru Public Opinion survey conducted on behalf of Kaiser & Partners was undertaken by the sample and data collection experts at Maru/Blue. 1,532 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada online panelists were surveyed from October 4, 2023, to October 5, 2023. The results of this study have been weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals when compared to the data tables are due to rounding.

About Maru Group
The experience & insights platform Maru is a world leading CX and insights software and advisory services company. The company was founded to disrupt the data and insight delivery industry with a combination of software and advisory services delivering data in real time via a unique service model. Maru helps its clients make informed decisions in near real time by combining proprietorial software, deep industry experience, and access to the best minds in research.

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