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News trust is highest in Finland. Can the US learn from that?

Finland reports the highest levels of news trust among its public in the world. Why don't other countries have similar public opinion?
Posted at 8:13 PM, Jan 23, 2023

With 85% trust in police, 69% trust in news media and government approval at 61% — polarization is just not a big part of life in Finland.

At a time when trust in institutions is declining globally, Finland is a striking outlier, especially for journalism.

In a Reuters Institute survey of 46 countries, no one trusts the news as much as the Finns.

Esa Reunanen, a media researcher in Finland, says when it comes to politics, mudslinging is generally frowned upon. It's all about coalitions and compromises. 

"Honesty and trust are highly valued in Finland," Reunanen said. "Before elections, they don't know who their partners may be, so they are not so hostile towards each other."

Less hostility in government translates to less shouting on the news.

Reunanen says the standard-bearer of quality journalism in Finland has long been public broadcaster YLE News.

Company created tool to identify trusted news sources

Company created tool to identify trusted news sources

NewsGuard is a tool that rates certain websites on its trustworthiness as an accredited source.


"People of my age have watched YLE News all of my life," Reunanen said.

People in most northern and western European nations rank public broadcasters like YLE as the most trustworthy of all the journalism brands.

It's a similar story for the BBC, where some of the most famous journalists in Europe work. It has a reputation for impartiality.

But in America, the three most recognized television journalists are all hosts of opinoins shows: Tucker Carlson, Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity.

Only 1 in 4 Americans trust the news — dead last in that Reuters survey.

Benjamin Toff of the Reuters Institute has been traveling across the U.S. to understand why a growing share of Americans distrust the news. He says a minority is hostile, but a larger share has simply disengaged.

"How we feel about news often comes down to how we feel about government and how well it's functioning," Toff said. "They have the sense that there are so many media choices out there. They're sort of throwing their hands up and saying, 'I don't think I can trust any of it.' But I think there's room in there to rebuild some of that trust."

National News Literacy Week

National News Literacy Week

Just 26% of Americans say they trust most news most of the time. This annual event underscores the vital role of news literacy in a democracy and provides audiences of all ages with the knowledge and tools to become more news-literate.