What information do you trust?

According to a new survey, online news is widely considered just as credible as newspapers and TV news.  In some countries, including the United States, it’s seen as even more trustworthy.  But the survey found that blogs, as opposed to online news sites, are almost universally distrusted.

The study, by the research and marketing group TNS, asked more than 27,000 people in 16 countries to rate a variety of information sources on a scale of 1 (don’t trust at all) to 10 (trust completely). The US was one of just three countries where online news was more trusted than television: 38% for online vs 33% for TV news and 34% for newspapers. The other two countries? France and Italy.

Those numbers may be disappointing, but blogs get much more negative reviews.  Only one person in 10 in the US and around the world said they trust what they read on blogs.  TNS vice president Don Ryan calls that “heartening.”

Online blogs clearly have no real accountability.  Although they may be a great source of entertainment and a useful source of information and reviews they are clearly highly subjective.  The move of traditional news media into the online space has ensured that the trust of traditional media has spread into to online-only sources too.

Still, the news media are far from being the most trusted source in the United States.  According to the survey, that distinction belongs to recommendations from friends, which 48% said they trusted.

A separate study also released this week looked only at where Americans turn for news.  The results: local TV remains the main source of news for most Americans, followed by cable, local newspapers and network TV.

According to the Gallup survey, for the first time since 1995, significantly more Americans say they turn to cable news networks daily than say they turn to nightly network news programs. Cable news was one of only two sources to show a substantial increase in audience.  The other one is no surprise: Internet news showed the biggest jump with 31% of Americans now saying it’s a daily news source. That’s up almost 50% since 2006.

But the audience for most other news sources, including NPR and national newspapers, is holding steady.  At the risk of sounding Pollyannaish, that’s pretty good news in these grim economic times.

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