Two-thirds of UK consumers say they place greater value on the role of journalism since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and 70% believe a world without journalism would damage democracy.

“World Without News”, a study commissioned by Newsworks and announced during Journalism Matters in partnership with the News Media Association and the Society of Editors, reveals that despite fake news and attacks on free speech, 66% of people say they “appreciate and value journalism more since the global coronavirus pandemic began”.

This greater understanding of the role of journalism is most noticeable among those in the under-35 age group, with 77% saying they value journalists’ work in offering reliable information more now than before COVID-19 outbreak.

And, increasingly, younger people are using mainstream media they trust to verify what they see and read on social media, the study found. Although 42% of under 35-year-olds used social media more during the height of the pandemic, 70% of those said they felt less anxious about a story on social media once they had checked it out via a news brand.

Other results that will offer a boost to print include: 82% of people agree that newspapers offer a variety of news, and 80% agree newspapers are good at laying out content to help the reader make sense of a story, issue or event.

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said it was always understood that the public supported a free press and recognised the mainstream media’s ability to provide accurate news content.

“The proof has been provided by the numbers in which people have turned to trusted journalism for news and information during this pandemic,” he said. “The figures supported by this research underscore the public’s understanding of the value of the news content that the press provides in the UK," he added.

The report also includes a news-deprivation study, which spanned nine months and included the periods both pre and post-lockdown: regular consumers of news were deprived of watching, listening or reading news brands for a week; at the same time, a group of non-news readers was asked to read a news brand every day.

Denise Turner, insight director at Newsworks, said: “While the two groups were from polar opposites of the news spectrum, the results of the experiment were surprisingly similar – a world without news made people more anxious, less clear and less sure of their perspective on the world. In short, the results showed us how news brands help us to navigate our lives and provide us with an orientation that just isn’t there when we are starved of news brands.”

Sourced from Newsworks