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Edelman Trust Barometer 2015: low British public trust in media, government and business

by Ingrida Andrijauskaite

Edelman Trust Barometer 2015: low British public trust in media, government and business

A few days ago the most recent findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer Survey were revealed. The survey was executed by research firm Edelman Berland and sampled 27,000 general population respondents with an oversample of 6,000 informed publics ages 25-64 across 27 markets. The main focus was dedicated to the government, business and media sectors.

Some of the findings of this survey were that:

  • The UK is drifting in the ‘trust doldrums’, with trust in government, business and media flatlining.
  • Trust in the UK media has stagnated, as people blame publications for the media mishaps of 2014, which were rooted in commercial interests being prioritised over public interests.

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The CEO of Edelman’s, Ed Williams, made the following comment: “Key institutions in the UK such as Government, Media and Business have had a better year than previous ones but that has not been converted into increased levels of trust”. He also added that:

There is no doubt that we are stuck in a rut.  There is a real danger that the years of continuing low trust have permanently rewired our attitudes towards the institutions that shape our lives. It‘s becoming increasingly difficult for us to navigate out of the trust doldrums.”

(More information here: http://edelmaneditions.com/2015/01/edelman-trust-barometer-2015/).

The British public distrust the Media the most

The results of the survey of Edelman Trust Barometer reveal that British public mainly don’t trust the media. This trust registered at 38%  this year, which is 4%  less than 2014. It shows that the trust society has in the media is very poor and becoming worse.

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The statistics of the Edelman Trust Barometer show us that the trust the British public has in the government has slightly increased this year – 43%  a 1% increase from the previuos year. This data reveals that increases in distrust in business, government, NGOs and media coincided with the period of financial crisis. We may assume that, from 2012 year, trust in all of these organizations started slowly increasing. However the statistics of the Edelman Trust Barometer for this year are surprising.

Perhaps these results show us that the media was too strongly trusted prior to the financial crisis. During this time, people all over the world realised that they couldn’t find all the answers in the information presented by the media.

 The reasons for public distrust in media

One point could be that society has started to question the merchantability of the media and the reliability of the sources of information.

An example could be “promotional articles”. The companies try to find the best way how to promote their services or products in the newspapers and other media channels.

The main problem with these “promotional articles” is that they are generally prepared by unidentified advertisers, with no mention of the author or sources of information. This doesn‘t help in conveying a message of authenticity and reliability to readers.

The companies which are using “promotional articles” as a means of communicating their brand‘s message and informing the public about their product, do so in order that readers may be persuaded to buy what they are offering.

The public want to see a border between journalism and advertisiment as now it is very difficult to see information in the media which is unadulterated by the interests of the government, certain companies or individuals.

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The media theorist and academic Hugo de Burgh is keeping the position that the digitalization and commercialisation has the strongest and most damaging impact on journalism. He claims that today the media aims not only to maintain the attention of the readers, but also present events in such a way as to compete with advertising.

Journalist Kate Magee has said that some of reasons for the British distrust in the media lie in scandals such as the phone-hacking incident in 2011 and the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal in 2012.[1]

As the journalist K. Magee mentioned, more than 60% of respondents in 2014 said that their trust in the media is lower than for the other sectors due to immoral behaviour (38%) and a lack of regulation (23%). The second factor also has an influence on ethics. People are increasingly noticing the lack of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and impartiality in the media channels such as newspapers or TV. These are considered to be the ethical standards and principles of Journalism.

This survey of the Edelman Trust Barometer potently exemplifies that the public consistently follow events and don’t miss or forgive the mistakes of the media. Each negative error has a strong effect on future public trust in the media.

[1] http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1228324/