Survey: Trust in Estonian media growing

TV channels (photo is illustrative).
TV channels (photo is illustrative). Source: Marko Tooming/ERR

While residents of Estonia whose first language is not Estonian trust the local media for their information on the war in Ukraine more than they do any other source, the overall total is significantly less than it is for native Estonian speakers, according to a recent survey.

The survey, commissioned by the government office and conducted by market research company Turu-tutkimusute AS, also found that the share of respondents from among "other nationalities" who say they trust Russian channels fell from 39 percent in early February, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to 27 percent as of mid-March.

"Other nationalities" in practice means primarily Russian-speaking respondents.

For ethnic Estonians, the most significant information sources are the Estonian-language TV channels (74 percent of respondents put it in their top three most important sources), online news portals (61 percent) and radio (36 percent).

Among respondents of other nationalities, the largest shares of respondents by media type were 43 percent, for news portals, 35 percent – who found social media the most reliable information source – and 32 percent for (Russian-language) TV channels.

Since late February, news portals and Russian-language TV channels have diminished in importance for respondents of other nationalities, Turu-tutkimusute says, though results from different monitoring surveys have varied widely.

ERR's two Estonian-language TV channels, ETV and ETV2, are considered the most reliable channels for obtaining news and other information among the Estonian populace, followed by Estonian-language radio channels and Estonian-language news portals, while for those of other nationalities, word-of-mouth communication with friends, relatives and acquaintances is among the most-trusted source, along with Estonian-based Russian-language TV channels and their content, and Russian-language news portals based in Estonia.

Estonians consider ERR's Estonian-language TV channels (ETV and ETV2), o be the most reliable information channels for acquiring news and knowledge.

However, people of other nationalities communicate with friends, relatives and acquaintances, Estonian Russian-language TV channels and programs, and Estonian Russian-language news portals.

The proportion of respondents who found Russian media (news portals or TV channels) trustworthy from among the other nationalities group fell from 40 percent in late February to 33 percent in the latest survey.

Information on the war in Ukraine

Regarding information on the Russia-Ukraine war, ethnic Estonians continue to trust Estonian channels the most (89 percent), followed by 67 percent for "western" channels, 52 percent for Ukrainian channels and just 2 percent for Russian channels.

Respondents of other nationalities also found Estonian channels the most reliable, though a smaller proportion, and a minority of the total (39 percent), compared with 27 percent for Russian-language channels from Russia itself (as noted down from 39 percent early on in February).

The proportion of other nationalities' respondents who found "western" and Ukrainian channels trustworthy were 24 percent and 16 percent respectively.

The growth in trust in Estonian media channels' coverage of the Ukraine war among residents of other nationalities in the context of the reflection on the war is primarily due to the fact that the share is declining of those who up to now trusted both the Estonian and Russian media in this matter (down from 12 percent to eight percent) but now prefer to trust the Estonian media alone (up from 19 percent to 26 percent).

The share of those who trust the media from the Russian Federation but who do not trust the Estonian media (17 percent), as well as the share of those who do not trust either (27 percent), has not changed significantly om February's results.

Support for the reception of war refugees

Support for the reception of war refugees from Ukraine remained at the same level in mid-March as it had been at the end of February: 79 percent of the population as a whole support the reception of refugees in Estonia (cf. 77 percent at the end of February).

The breakdown by ethnicity saw a much higher proportion (92 percent) of ethnic Estonians supporting taking in refugees from the Ukraine war compared with 51 percent from among other nationalities – figures again largely unchanged from February (91 percent and 48 percent respectively).

Residents' sense of security

Estonian residents' sense of security remains broadly at the same level as it was at the end of February, the survey founds.

54 percent of respondents said the Estonian state currently feels secure to them (unchanged from last month), with 67 percent saying they felt safe living in Estonia (down slightly from 70 percent in February).

There was also little difference between ethnic Estonians and that of other nationalities on these questions, though the proportion of those from other nationalities who fell their personal security has fallen.

Economic security

The share of people experiencing economic difficulties has fallen in recent months: Whereas it stood at 30 percent at the end of January, it had fallen to 25 percent at the end of February, reaching the 22-percent level in mid-March.

Despite some improvement in the economic situation, public economic confidence has declined in recent weeks: The proportion of people feeling financially uncertain about the future has risen from 45 percent to 51 percent since the end of February.

At the same time, 44 percent of Estonians still say they feel economic insecurity, rising to 65 percent of residents of other nationalities.

26 percent of the population do not have savings, while 7 percent reported that they have significant financial obligations in addition to no savings (e.g. apartment loans or quick loans).

People aged 65–74, from the other nationalities group, with lower levels of education, and/or living in northeastern Estonia experience problems with coping economically, and with economic insecurity as a whole, more often than average.

The survey was commissioned by the government office and conducted by Turu-tutkimusute AS both online and over the phone, March 11-15. 1,256 residents aged 15 and over from across the country took part.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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