One of the questions that came out of the CMRC report on social media and the news was about the reliability of social networks as a news source.
Our study, Social Networks Transforming How Canadians Get the News (PDF), found that 71 per cent of Canadians who use social networks - more than 10 million people - value them as a way of keeping up with the news.
But we also found that only 25 per cent of all Canadians online regard social networks as a reliable news source.
The discrepancy is explained by the sample size. We asked all participants what they thought about the reliability of social media as a source for news, so this included people who use social media and those who don’t.
In our sample, we found that just under 60 per cent use social media on a regular basis.
That leaves 40 per cent of Canadians who don’t use social media. It is understandable that these people may be more sceptical about turning to social networks for news, as they are not part of that media ecosystem.
Our figures suggest that those engaged with social media value the idea of social recommendation to help them keep up with the news.
Our study found that 43 per cent of social media users some of their news every day via media and links shared by friends and family on sites like Facebook. This amounts to 6.5m Canadians who use social media on a daily basis to get the news.
Almost two-thirds of these people say their social networks mean they are exposed to more news and information than if they solely relied on the choices made by professional journalists.
Clearly there is much to unpack in the study. Overall, it highlights how many people are turning to their circle of friends, family and acquaintances online to alert them to news of interest.
The Canadian Media Research Consortium report is based on an online survey of a representative national sample of 1,682 adults conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results were statistically weighted according to the most current Statistics Canada data on age, gender, region, and education to ensure a representative sample.