Execs: Media Brands Have Authority, Trust, Influence but No Monopoly on Insight

March 10, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Household Income | Magazines | Newspapers | Television

Senior executives, CEOs and other C-suite officers in midsize to large (including Fortune 500) companies – perhaps unsurprisingly select legacy, marquee brands as having authority, trust and?influence but see no clear leaders in “insight,” according to an Ipsos Media study.?

As part of a broader profiling study, Ipsos Media asked business-elite influencers to assess a wide range of media properties in terms of their authoritativeness, trustworthiness, influence, and insightfulness as information sources.

Media properties included business and current-events periodicals, daily and weekly news and current-events TV programming, and web properties.

Print Media – Clear Leaders

Among readers of print media:

  • The Wall Street Journal is most often seen as “authoritative” among major daily publications (64% of execs who read it said so).
  • The Economist? is the most authoritative weekly/bi-weekly publication (62% of its readers said so).
  • Harvard Business Review (HBR) and Scientific American are tied (with 64%) for the lead among monthlies (among their respective readership bases).


  • Similarly, the Wall Street Journal and The Economist are rated by 55% of those who read them as the most “trustworthy” daily and weekly/bi-weekly media brands.
  • Among monthlies, National Geographic (55%) leads HBR and Scientific American in trustworthiness (both 48%), by a modest margin.

When US business elites assess “influence” of leading media that they read, a similar cluster of marquee media brands is joined by Forbes, Fortune and the New York Times, with the Sunday Times the most influential weekly/bi-weekly:


However, when asked to assess the quality of “insight” provided by various print media, perceived leadership is more broadly dispersed across various publications, with none dominating, Ipsos said, though it did not provide specific data. It did say, however, that insight scores are in general higher than those of authority, trust and influence.

TV and Web Media – Pattern Similar to Print’s

Compared with print, leadership among a wide range of news and current events TV programming is somewhat more fragmented:

  • The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and Special Report with Brit Hume vie for leadership as the most authoritative among their viewers (57% and 53%, respectively) and trusted TV news sources (55% each).
  • NBC’s Meet the Press leads the pack in terms of influence (mentioned by 58% of viewers), various competitors are in a close second tier, each mentioned by between 44% and 55% of US business elites who view them:
    • PBS’ News Hour with Jim Lehrer
    • CNBC’s Mad Money and Power Lunch programs
    • The O’Reilly Factor and Special Report from Fox
  • In terms of ‘insight’ provided by TV news and current events programming, no one property or brand dominates, with similarly high scores for a variety of programs. As with print media, the insight scores for many TV programs are higher than other scores.

The websites considered strongest on the four key measures echo the media brands:

  • The Wall Street Journal website is seen as most authoritative (71%) and trusted (56%) by its users, and vies with the HBR, the New York Times, and Investors.com websites as most influential (62%-66% for each).
  • Regarding the most ‘insightful’ websites, all those properties are very strong, though again joined by a number of other strong contenders as well.

Dynamics of Insight, Influence, Authority, Trust

“This overall pattern underscores the different value and meaning underlying the dimensions we measured. ‘Authoritativeness’ and ‘trust’ seem closely linked, which probably makes intuitive sense. If we think in terms of politicians, we might say I ‘trust’ a politician if I believe the person says what he or she means – and that person’s ‘authoritative’ if what he or she says is backed up by facts,” Board said.

“Influence takes on a more subjective cast, since my assessment of a news media’s influence reflects my perception of what goes on in other people’s minds, not just my own. At the same time, like authority and trust, influence has a strong ‘heritage’ element – generally speaking, the ability to be authoritative, trusted, and influential requires an established track record.”

“Finally, we see in the dimension of ‘insight’ the critical forward-looking aspect – while certainly there is value in historical perspective, without clear relevance to future decisions it’s useless to the business elite. It’s striking how many news brands are seen as strong purveyors of insight, without having the same perceived strength in authority, trust, and influence,” Board concluded.

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