Just read a smart blog by the folks at GolinHarris on a study they conducted in the U.S. to determine how people accessed information and which news sources people trusted more than others. First of all, kudos to these guys for looking at this issue with an open perspective – too often agencies and media companies seem more intent on protecting the status quo than finding real answers. I’m still absoring the detailed analysis, but highlights of the study are as follows:

  • There is no substitute for personal experience – direct interaction is the most trusted information source across every demographic group
  • Word-of-mouth is the second most important and trusted source, allowing users to “borrow” the direct experience of others
  • Online media (CNET, WebMD) are more trusted by a majority of respondents than traditional news sources
  • Radio is the most trusted mainstream media source
  • Trust in social media channels is showing big gains, and these channels are perceived as important future sources
  • Proactive news junkies – or individual influencers – are very active and important sources of information

If nothing else, this research confirms that new Web 2.0 tools have changed the face of news gathering and dissemination forever. [Full disclosure – I worked at GolinHarris for five years and have been known to share a beer with my old friends there. None of them, however, had anything to do with this study.]