“Seeing but not Believing”: Undergraduate Students’ Media Uses and News Trust

Ana Isabel Melro, Sara Pereira


Young people often encounter the news on social media while engaging in social and entertainment practices. Despite relying on social media for news, youth see online information with suspicion and as less trustworthy than traditional news media. While many factors contribute to the widespread decline in news trust, the relationship between youth news media uses and their trust in the news remains unclear. This article seeks to understand how Portuguese undergraduate students describe their news trust, and how these perceptions relate to their media uses. We draw on a mixed-methods study using a survey (N = 562) and focus groups (N = 45) with students from diverse disciplines, between 2016 and 2017. The findings reveal a paradoxical relationship between students’ media uses and news trust. Students mistrust online news but stay informed through social media. This is explained by emotional needs as well as perceptions of the news combining optimistic and critical stances. This study suggests further research on what news trust means for young people on social media.


young people, media uses, news trust, information, social media

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