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Younger Canadians are more likely to look for alternative news sources: poll

TORONTO — A new survey suggests that trust in mainstream news is dropping as younger Canadians seek out alternative sources of information.
An unidentified man is pictured outside the CBC building in downtown Toronto is seen on Thursday June 26 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO — A new survey suggests that trust in mainstream news is dropping as younger Canadians seek out alternative sources of information.

More than half of respondents to a survey conducted by Maru Public Opinion said they see established news media as the most trustworthy source of information, a seven per cent decline from 2020.

While trust in mainstream news was down slightly, the survey found an even bigger shift in the trust of information shared by public health agencies, as only one-third of Canadians considered them to be the most credible source of information.

That is a 23 per cent drop compared with 2020.

Additionally, trust in information released by governments is down 13 per cent from last year at 29 per cent.

“The gap is widening between public and governmental entities and established news media,” said Janine Allen, president of consultancy Kaiser & Partners, which commissioned the survey, in a press release.

The survey found that Canadians aged 18 to 34 are the least likely to find traditional news outlets the most trusted source of news at 36 per cent compared to 72 per cent of Canadians aged 55 and up.

“Canadians remain loyal to overall media as the most trusted vessel of information, however, it is important to recognize that not all demographics rely on the same sources,” said Allen.

It found that alternative news media such as podcasts have become an increasingly popular source of news for younger Canadians as 17 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 said they have shifted to podcasts to source information in the last year, the biggest medium shift among this age group.

The survey found that younger Canadians also rely more on social media for news and rely on online news 16 per cent more than other age groups.

Similar trends point to Canadians 55 and up who have been the main driver of the shift toward online news consumption, as 23 per cent said they read more online news compared to last year, up from 17 per cent from 2021.

Online news consumption has been a hot topic with the proposal of Bill C-18, a bill put forth to regulate digital platforms like Google and act as intermediaries in Canada's news media ecosystem to make the Canadian digital news market more equitable.

Results in the survey for Kaiser & Partners are based on 1,529 Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada online panellists and were surveyed on Oct. 25 and 26.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2022.

The Canadian Press