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Online news sites are now second only to recommendations from friends as the primary trusted source of information in the UK, and are “highly trusted”* sources of information by 40% of people in 16 countries surveyed, including the US, according to research from TNS.

The survey found that online news is highly trusted by two-fifths (40%) of those in the UK – second only to word-of-mouth recommendations, which were highly trusted by nearly half (45%) of respondents.

Three quarters (76%) of those surveyed worldwide say that they had ‘looked up the news’ when asked what they had done online in the last month, further emphasizing the growing importance of online news sites, TNS reports.

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Trust in TV News Varies by Country

The research also found that while almost two fifths (38%) of those in the UK claimed to highly trust TV news, there were differences across countries. Just under a quarter (24%) of Italians and French report highly trusting their TV news, TNS said.

Trust in Newspapers Lowest in UK

Regarding printed newspapers TNS found that less than a quarter (23%) of UK respondents highly trusted newspapers, the lowest score among all 16 countries. The average of those highly trusting newspapers for all countries was just under two-fifths (39%).

In contrast to the UK, the traditional press seemed to be most trusted by respondents in Finland (69%), Japan (50%), Sweden (49%) and China (49%).

Blogs Least Trustworthy Overall

Respondents in the UK are more critical of user-generated web-based resources such as blogs, with just 6% of Brits highly trusting a private blog, compared with all other countries surveyed (average of 10%). These results makes blogs the least trustworthy news source in the survey.

Wikipedia (24%) is as highly trusted as newspapers (23%) by UK respondents although some countries are even more trusting of this source with more than half (52%) of German respondents highly trusting this online source of information.

“It’s interesting to see how trusted online news is–with consumers clearly understanding the difference between which online channels can be trusted and which cannot,” said Arno Hummerston, managing director, TNS Global Interactive. “Instead of fighting the web revolution, newspapers seem to be trying to move their business models online, and it seems as though the combination of quality content and a recognized brand name is working, with readership figures of most national newspaper websites up over the last year.”

* highly trusted is defined as giving a score of 8,9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is “Do not trust at all” and 10 is “trust completely.”

About the study: The results come from TNS’s “Digital World, Digital Life” study, a 16-country look at online behavior and perspectives around the world. A total of 27,522 people age 18-55 were interviewed online in the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. 2,500 were interviewed in the UK. The research focused on four themes: Howe are using the internet for entertainment, information and commerce; whether people are using online channels when making major life decisions; how far social media has developed; and how much trust people have in online vs. traditional and word-of-mouth sources of information.

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