Science news most trusted by British public

Posted on Jan 23, 2017

Science news most trusted by British public

A new survey commissioned by Matter PR reveals that print and online news stories about science and sports are considered the most trustworthy by the British public.

Amid concerns that public trust in experts is at an all time low, this survey shows that science, medicine, and technology news reporting is considered amongst the most honest and trustworthy by the British public. However, almost one third (32%) of Brits believe that no type of news can be considered trustworthy.

The survey, carried out for Matter PR by YouGov, asked what news stories the British public believe are the “most trustworthy”. Sports news came out top with 17%. Science, medicine and technology stories came a close second with 14%. These two types of news were by far the most trusted by the British public. The least trusted were celebrity news and politics with 1% and 2% respectively.

Amongst full-time students, science news came out top with 21% believing it to be the most trustworthy.

David Reid, Managing Director of Matter PR said:

“Matter PR commissioned this survey to see if science news stories are still considered trustworthy by the public, despite recent global trends seeing trust in experts at an all time low. Whilst the results are reassuring for science, it is all relative and shows that trust in the print and online news media is very low overall.”


“Scientists need to work hard to improve people’s trust in them. Stories which are hyped-up, exaggerated claims, and silly stunts might be good copy but do a lot of damage. Clear, engaging, and honest communication with the public should be at the heart of what every science organisation in the UK does – it must not be considered an optional extra.”


Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association said:

“The key to building trust is to behave in a trustworthy way. Over recent decades, the science media has been transformed; there is now increased support and guidance for journalists that report on difficult science topics, enabling them to critique, investigate and report on science news in an objective way. However, science stories might be one of the most trusted news stories in this survey, but even this is a fragile form of trust. To build genuine, long-term trust, scientists need to communicate their intentions and their vested interests clearly and pro-actively to the media as well. They need to show the workings of science, not just the results.”


“Trust should never be taken for granted, and as shown in this recent survey, it is not something offered all that readily from the public at the moment. We need to show that science is a human endeavour and a key part of society and culture – not a distant profession focussed on abstract concerns.”


The overall results were:


17%   Sports

14%   Science, medicine, & technology

9%     Business & Finance

7%     Travel

4%     Crime

2%     Politics

1%     Celebrity

0%     Other

12%   Don’t know

32%   Not applicable – no type of news is reported accurately


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2068 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between  9th – 10th January 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).