Two-thirds of global media chiefs believe fake news will help ‘strengthen’ position of quality publishers

Two-thirds of global media chiefs believe fake news will help ‘strengthen’ position of quality publishers / Facebook

Publishers view the rise of fake news as an opportunity for quality journalism to stand out, according to a new report from Reuters Institute.

Researchers quizzed almost 150 chief executives, editors and digital leaders from 24 different countries as part of the University of Oxford's Journalism, Media and Technology Trends and Predictions Study and found that 70% believe their position will be “strengthened” by audiences’ desire for trusted brands and accurate news at a time of uncertainty.

Only 17% of publishers said they think that worries over the distribution of fake news would weaken the position of the online news media, while 8% argued it would make no difference.

Research associate Damian Radcliffe said he believes some audiences may “increasingly appreciate the importance – and value – of quality independent journalism” in light of recent controversies and pointed to the increased rate of subscription for the New York Times, and ProPublica and others following Donald Trump’s US election victory.

Talk of fake news has dominated industry conversation since November last year, with Facebook finding itself in the midst of the fallout. Just this week the social networking giant has further beefed up its efforts to combat the spread of misinformation by offering users in Germany the chance to flag up stories they believe to be untrue.

At the end of last year Facebook was among those to employ a fake news taskforce to filter out unauthentic content. Since then the BBC, Google and other media owners have taken measures to do the same.

Reuters president and editor-in-chief told The Drum last week that the news organisation plans to "double down," on efforts to win greater public trust by being more transparent in its news-gathering methods, allowing readers to ask questions of reporters and showing greater detail in sourcing.

Almost half of those questioned for the Reuters Institute trends and predictions study (46%) said they were more worried about the role and influence of social platforms compared with 2016, but despite this the vast majority of publishers plan to continue to invest heavily in Facebook and to a lesser extent other platforms this year.

The report found that 78% of publishers thought Facebook was the most important platform for media owners to invest in this year, while just 13% believed Snapchat to be the most significant. Three quarters (73%) said that their overall digital strategies aimed to strike an equal balance between their own websites/properties and distributing content via third parties.

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. She primarily writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

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