At the end of last year, I decided to go on an info-cleansing diet.
My focus? More quality.
I signed up for many email newsletters. I paid for the premium memberships some of my favorite news sites offer. I started using a news aggregator more. And, finally, I dramatically reduced my time on social media.
It's only been a few weeks, but already I feel far more informed.
Apparently, I am not alone.
Media consumption is on an upswing. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, news engagement rose by 22 percentage points this year. It increased the most among women.
Importantly, traditional publishers are now the most-trusted sources in the U.S./Canada and Europe. Globally, this group is tied with search (65 percent) and ahead of social media (43 percent). Trust in the media as an institution increased as well, though it remains low.
This is very good news for the purveyors of quality news – and for those of us in communications who champion journalism.
The public is on the hunt for reliable sources. More voices and more opinions have, over time, come to mean less clarity and less insight. Now, journalism is again a beacon of trust in a world of distrust.
To maintain this altitude, however, the press will need to continue to focus on this core value proposition and resist the urge to chase the next new shiny thing. This, at times, has been a challenge.
A report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford found that “relentless, high-speed pursuit of technology-driven innovation could be almost as dangerous as stagnation.”
Further, not all kinds of journalism will be sustainable. According to a study by the University of North Carolina, massive "news deserts" remain in many communities around the U.S.
The macroeconomic picture for the media is still murky as well. While more publishers have successfully diversified their revenue streams in the last year, many remain overly dependent on ads. Here, Google, Facebook and Amazon continue to dominate.
Taken together, all of this this may result in more information voids. Businesses will address some of this. Trust in company-owned channels rose significantly from 41 percent in 2018 to 49 percent in 2019, we found. However, it won't be enough. Blind spots remain.
Still, in an incredibly turbulent environment where people have low confidence overall, the news is good for the news this year.
Steve Rubel is Chief Media Ecologist, Edelman.