Research reveals low levels of public news literacy

Drawing on a survey of more than 3,000 members of the public, carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Derby and Leeds, the research shows that more than half of the population admit to having low levels of news literacy and confidence, particularly with regard to how decisions are made in newsrooms, the editorial standards that are applied, and how they are regulated and enforced by industry bodies.

Chair of Impress, Richard Ayre, said: “The message couldn’t be clearer. If we want to improve trust in journalism the whole industry needs to engage more openly with the public about news values, about how high standards can be achieved, and about the role regulation can play in maintaining those standards.”

Impress will celebrate the launch of the report by hosting a special online event on 30 November at 11am, which will include a presentation from expert researchers John Steel and Julie Firmstone, before a panel discussion chaired by Impress’ Head of Regulation Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana.

John Steel, Research Professor of Journalism at University of Derby, said: “This report, and the research underpinning it, emphasises the need for greater levels of transparency and knowledge of the news media amongst the UK public.”

Julie Firmstone, Associate Professor of Media and Communication at University of Leeds, said: “The report and the research demonstrate the importance of efforts to increase levels of news literacy among audiences, showing that when people feel knowledgeable about how news is regulated and how journalism works, they are more likely to trust the news it produces.”