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Finland has highest trust in news media, global study finds

The report noted that overall trust in news media in Finland increased by nine percentage points from last year to 65 percent.

Some 81% of people in Finland access their news online. Image: Katriina Laine / Yle

People in Finland trust the news media more than any other nation surveyed as part of a global study, jointly carried out by the University of Oxford's research centre and the Reuters Institute.

The research found that public trust in Finnish news media increased by nine percentage points during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (65%), and the USA now has the lowest levels (29%) in our survey," the report outlined. "We also find a growing trust gap between the news sources people generally rely on and the news they find in social media and search, which remain unchanged on a like-for-like basis."

The high level of trust in Finland can be attributed to the fact that Finnish society tends to already have a strong faith in institutions, the report further noted.

The think tank also found that the pandemic has been particularly effective in shedding light on the issue of misinformation, urging the public to reassess their news sources.

Some 81 percent of respondents in Finland said that they receive their news from traditional news websites as well as mobile applications. While typically it has been younger generations that have accessed news online, more time spent at home due to the pandemic has meant that an increasing number of people over the age of 45 have also been scrolling through news sites during the past year.

Digital subscriptions keeping newspapers alive

Despite reports of the impending demise of newspapers, the research found that online has not replaced traditional news media such as Finnish newspapers, television and radio, but that they have instead complemented each other.

The pandemic saw a temporary boost in digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines, but this was not enough to compensate for the loss of advertising sales revenue. Despite commercial media feeling threatened by Yle's extensive, free online offering, the report found that readers of free online news content are also more likely to pay for subscriptions.

The report also found that the roughly one in five people in Finland who pay for digital subscriptions are also almost 50 percent more likely to have subscribed to at least Finland's most popular broadsheet, Helsingin Sanomat.

The research noted that typically it is high-income, highly-educated young men interested in politics who are most likely to pay for online news content. Local newspaper subscribers, who made up 31 percent of respondents, were also motivated by an interest in the issues affecting their local communities.