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Communication

Australians’ trust in mainstream health media is in crisis

Health Industry Hub | July 1, 2024 |

Despite several mainstream media journalists being recognised at the 2024 Excellence in Health Journalism Awards by Rare Cancers and Prospection at the National Press Club, new data reveals a stark reality: Australian consumers rate the nation’s mainstream health media the lowest on the scale of trust.

Australia ranks at the bottom among 16 countries, including the US, UK, and Canada, with only 30% of Australians trusting consumer media to report accurately on healthcare, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust & Health. This distrust spans all age groups and has seen a significant drop from 2019 to 2024, despite Australia having some of the toughest regulatory practices and one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

A study by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) highlights that consumers are demanding greater accountability and transparency in news content. Perceptions of bias and conflicts of interest are eroding trust in the news, and audiences are calling for action.

“Perceptions of bias also need to be openly addressed, and the line between fact and opinion more clearly demarcated,” the study notes.

News organisations must heed the public’s demand for greater accountability, a call also directed at many public institutions, including political parties.

Breaking the chains: Unveiling Australia’s media monopoly crisis

The 2024 Digital News Report, released in June and administered locally by the University of Canberra, also serves as a wake-up call for the Australian mainstream media industry.

The report examines long-term trends over the past decade, revealing that distrust in news is at an all-time high. News avoidance remains high at 68%, along with news fatigue at 41%. Australians avoid the news because they find it too negative, upsetting, and overwhelming, and express a desire for more positive news stories. Rising distrust and concern about misinformation exacerbate these issues.

Consumers are critically evaluating journalistic standards, transparency in the editorial process, evidence of bias, fair representation of subjects, and the presence of exaggeration or sensationalism.

The mainstream media faces a significant challenge in rebuilding trust among its audience. The demand for accountability, transparency, and unbiased reporting is clear, and addressing these concerns is crucial for restoring faith in consumer media.

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