How is social media affecting attitudes toward news?

Respondents may be more interested in speed than balance, according to a recent study.
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Journalistic values may be less important to some in the age of social media, according to a national study about Canadian news consumption online.

According to the recent study conducted by national non-profit organization, The Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), nearly 30% of English-speaking Canadians who consume news through two or more social media sources believe the statement, “Media outlets do not have to be balanced to be fair.” Only 19% of English-speaking respondents who do not consume news on social media agreed with the statement.

Among French-speaking respondents, 34% of respondents consuming news through social media believed that statement to be true, versus 15% of those who consume no news content on social media.

The study, commissioned by McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy and administered by the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy’s Loewen Lab, aims to reveal how social media plays a role in Canadians’ relationship to journalism – and whether age-old values such as objectivity and balance still matter.

Results from the study draw from 2,245 English-Canadians and 452 French-speaking respondents in Quebec who weighed in on a range of topics from news-consumption habits to trust in news organizations. According to the findings, those who got most of their news from social media would be willing to do away with traditional journalistic values if it meant news could be “delivered faster, more opinionated, and more transparently partisan or ideological,” according to IRPP.

The study comes at a difficult time for the journalism industry in Canada, when layoffs and closures regularly made headlines across the country this year.