Indian news consumers’ trust in private TV news channels is relatively much lower than their belief in newspapers and yet television continues to be the dominant news source. Notably, their trust in online news websites is lower than even the private channels, while the former is the third preferred source for accessing news after news channels and newspapers despite a surge in smartphone usage.
The conclusions are based on a survey conducted in 2022 by the Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS). The study was conducted in 19 States among 7,463 citizens aged 15 years and above. The survey covers all segments of the society – the rural as well as the urban citizens, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, men and women, and the non-literate as well as the educated.
Table 1 shows the proportion of people who are “accessing news” through various sources. Over 70% of Indian consumers said they watch news channels, while 48% read newspapers. About 37% also said that they visit websites to consume news.
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Table 2 shows the dominant news source among participants. Over 40% said TV and about 22% said new media (internet/social media/mobile phone) as their dominant sources for news.
Only 6% and 1% said newspaper and radio are the dominant sources of news respectively.
Table 3 shows the presence of media and communication sources in Indian homes. Three out of every four homes have a television set, close to one in four gets a newspaper daily or often and 13% of homes get magazines periodically or often. There is a music system or a transistor in 22% of homes, whereas 76% have at least one smartphone owning member.
Interestingly, the number of persons who carry a mobile phone which is not “smart” has become miniscule. While 84 of every 100 homes have at least one mobile phone owning member, 76 of every 100 homes have a smartphone owning member.
Instead of homes, when individuals are considered, the survey shows that 26% of individuals owned an ordinary mobile phone and 43% owned a smartphone. This meant that more individuals in India today own a smartphone than an ordinary mobile phone which was not the case till about three years ago. In 2019, a national survey by Lokniti had found 40% owned an ordinary mobile phone and 33% a smartphone.
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Survey also shows that online websites are the least trusted among news sources. Only 11% “strongly” trust them, fewer than 13% who said the same for private TV news channels. In contrast, more than twice the share — 31% — said they strongly trust newspapers. Over 60% “strongly or somewhat” trust newspapers. The trends are captured in table 4.
Interestingly, 50% or more respondents “highly or moderately” trusted Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube while less than half said the same about Facebook, Instagram and Telegram as listed in Table 5.
Table 6 shows that over 50% of active internet users are concerned of receiving or being misled by fake news on the internet, social media and WhatsApp.
Table 7 shows that 47% social media users have been misled by fake news at least once and about 38% shared such news unknowingly at least once and later realised that it was not true.
Put together, the results bring out a curious pattern of news consumption in India. Despite a surge in smartphone usage, TV and newspapers continue to beat websites in news consumption. And the trust in TV news is much lower than newspapers but it still is the dominant source of news.
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Source: Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung