April 23, 2019

France stands out from other Western European countries for its broad discontent toward the news media. About a third of adults say they trust the news media, including just 4% who say they have a lot of trust

A lawmaker reads French daily newspaper Le Monde, showing a photo of the French Education minister during a session of questions to the government on January 24, 2018 at the National Assembly in Paris. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

France’s news media habits and political dynamics stand apart from those of other Western European countries in a number of ways, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.

In nationally representative surveys in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, France stands out for its broad discontent toward the news media. About three-in-ten (28%) say the news media’s role is very important, which is the lowest among the eight countries surveyed. Trust in the news media is also low, with just 4% of French adults saying they have a lot of trust in the news media. Discontent is especially present among people who hold populist anti-elitist views, along with the younger and more educated.

France is also unique in the relative fragmentation of its news landscape. No more than one-in-five name the same top source for news, and there are substantial divides between those on the ideological left and right over which news outlets they use and which they trust.

Finally, as with all countries studied here, public attitudes toward the news media in France are more divided along populist anti-elitist views than along left-right ideology. However, there are larger differences in the fragmentation of main news sources along left-right ideology than along these populist views. (See Chapter 1 for more on measuring populist anti-elitist views.)

These are some findings that build on a previously released report of news media attitudes. The findings come from a Pew Research Center survey about news media use and attitudes across eight Western European countries conducted from Oct. 30 to Dec. 20, 2017.