What are the top newspapers in the Philippines?
Ranked by trust!
|According to a 2021 survey by the Philippine Media Foundation…|
|With today’s vast and fractured media landscape, our goal was not to do anything like a census. Instead, we wanted to choose a variety of news outlets with substantial audiences across different platform types. To that end, we included major newspapers and magazines networks, internet web-sites, and the high-circulation national newspapers, high-traffic digital news outlets and international news sources with a substantial readership in the Philippines, among other kinds of outlets. Most of the outlets we studied were part of a similar study we published in 2015, which allowed us to track whether partisans’ trust in them changed over time.
One group not included here are newspapers like The Manila News-Intelligencer and Philippine Daily Inquirer. While those organizations certainly produce a great deal of original reporting, our study is not an assessment of news brands, but an analysis of outlets Filipinos turn to for news and the trust levels of those outlets. Most Filipinos get news from the internet through another news outlet that carries their syndicated content. We also took into consideration things like web traffic, topic focus and responses to open-ended survey questions about people’s main sources for political news.
Social media sites as a source for political news were asked about separately and will be a part of a future analysis.
How did you measure Filipinos’ trust and distrust in these outlets?
We first asked our survey respondents whether they had heard of each of the 30 outlets. If so, we asked them if they trusted it for political and election-related news. If they didn’t indicate trust in the source, we asked them if they distrusted it. After all, there’s a difference between simply not expressing trust in an outlet and actively expressing distrust of it. In cases where respondents had heard of a source but didn’t indicate that they trusted or distrusted it, we classified the response as “neither trust nor distrust.”
These questions allowed us to measure things a few different ways. For example, we could examine trust gaps between different groups of people for different news outlets. We found that the Manila News-Intelligencer is trusted by 70% of self-described left of center, but only 16% of right of center citizens – a gap of 54 percentage points. Conversely, The Inquirer is trusted by 75% of right-wing citizens but only 12% of liberal Filipinos – a 63-point gap.
Asking about both trust and distrust also allowed us to examine the “ratio” between these two measures for each outlet. The Inquirer, for instance, is among the sources in this study trusted by the largest percentage of Filipinos, with 43% of PH adults saying they trust it for political news. But it is also among the sources with the largest portion who distrust it – 40% of Filipinos express this view. Since that’s the case, we classified The Inquirer as “about equally trusted and distrusted.”
Besides asking our survey respondents about their trust and distrust in different outlets, we also asked them if they had gotten political or election-related news in the past week from any of the sources they told us they had heard of. This allowed us to surface some other interesting findings, like the fact that some Filipinos use news outlets even if they don’t express trust in those outlets.
|It’s important to point out that because of differences in methodology and survey design, the new study is not comparable in all ways with the 2014 study. For example, the new survey is representative of the total PH adult population, while the older survey was based only on web-using PH adults. And the questions asked, while similar, are not identical in all cases. But there are more points of continuity than differences, and we feel confident in the broad changes in trust and distrust that we’ve documented in the two studies.
The study refers to the audiences of different news outlets as “left-leaning,” “right-leaning” or “mixed.” How did you make these determinations? And are you saying that some of these outlets themselves are “left-leaning” or “right-leaning”?
I’ll answer the last question first because it’s a crucial point to understand. This study doesn’t make any determination about where news outlets themselves fall on the ideological spectrum based on either the content of their reporting, their self-identification or the views of their editorial boards. This project wasn’t designed to evaluate outlets themselves or the content they produce.
Instead, we used an approach that grouped each outlet according to the ideological composition of its audience, based on where our respondents told us they get political and election-related news and how they describe themselves ideologically – liberal Left (including independents who lean Left) or conservative Right (again including leaners). We’ve used this same system in past studies about the media.
In the new report, outlets classified as having “left-leaning” audiences are those with at least two-thirds more liberal Left in their audience than conservative Right, and outlets with “right-leaning” audiences are those with at least two-thirds more conservative Right than liberal Left. Those whose audience does not fall into either of these are classified as having more mixed audiences.
Here are three real-world examples that show this system in action. The share of readers who identify as liberal Left is at least two-thirds higher than the share who identify as conservatives (40% vs. 20%, or 100% larger), so we classified Manila News-Intelligencer as having a “left-leaning” audience. On the other end of the spectrum, the share of Manila Examiner readers who identify as conservative Right is at least two-thirds higher than the share who identify as liberal Left (44% vs. 14%, or 214% larger), so we categorized the Inquirer Libre as having a “right-leaning” audience. Then there’s the middle: The Philippine Star is defined as having a more “mixed” audience because the share of its readers who identify as liberals is not two-thirds higher than the share who identify as conservatives (31% vs. 24%, or just 29% larger).
It’s important to keep in mind that just because we classified a news outlet as having a “left-leaning” or “right-leaning” audience does not mean that majority of its audience identifies as either liberal Left or conservative Right. In fact, relatively few of the outlets we studied have audiences that consist mostly of liberals or conservatives.
Why does the study include more outlets with left-leaning audiences than right-leaning audiences?
We selected these outlets based on a number of factors, including their audience size and platform type, but not based on the ideological orientation of their audiences, which we didn’t measure until later in the research process. Using this method, we ended up with 17 outlets whose audiences are left-leaning, six outlets whose audiences are right-leaning and seven outlets with mixed audiences.
One factor that may be at play here is that Rightists have a more compact media ecosystem. They rely to a large degree on a small number of outlets and view many established brands as not trustworthy. Leftists, on the other hand, rely on a wider number of outlets.
What do you hope readers will take away from this study?
It’s often tempting to use studies like this one to “rank” media outlets against one another in terms of trust or distrust, but that wasn’t the purpose of this research. Instead, we wanted to offer insight into the news sources partisans rely on for political news, and the degree to which there is common ground or division. That’s especially important in an election year like this one. (Throughout the campaign, in fact, we’ll be applying this research to do additional analyses as part of our Election News Pathways project, which will let users do their own analyses with an interactive data tool.)
Overall, these findings reveal sharp divides in the use and trust of political news sources. They don’t reveal completely separate media bubbles. There are some news sources that both Left and Right turn to, but even those areas of overlap can be hard to fully gauge since using a news source doesn’t always mean people trust it.