ICE blogs

June 5, 2008

Public’s trust in media at ‘depressing’ levels

Filed under: News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 1:09 am

Trust in the British mainstream media has fallen dramatically (and perhaps not surprisingly) over the last five years, according to a YouGov poll published in the latest issue of the British Journalism Review.

The survey asked: ‘How much do you trust the following groups to tell the truth?’ And it put the ‘great deals and fair amounts’ in a positive column. In 2003, BBC news journalists scored 81 per cent; by this year, the figure had slumped to 61 per cent. ITV news journalists fell from 82 to 51 per cent; Channel Four news journalists from 80 to 51 per cent; journalists on up-market newspapers from 65 to 43 per cent; journalists on local newspapers from 60 to 40 per cent and mid-market newspaper journalists 36 to 18 per cent. As Peter Preston commented in the Observer of 1 June 2008: ‘Red-tops may be up 1 per cent on 2003 but only estate agents outdo them in unpopularity.’

Steven Barnett, Professor of Communications at the University of Westminster, in an article intriguingly titled ‘On the road to self-destruction’, describes the results as ‘profoundly depressing, particularly for broadcasters’. Trying to explain the decline in trust, he focuses on the many television phone-in scandals and the widespread illegal trade in personal information highlighted recently by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas. In addition, in identifies ‘The dog-eat-dog effect’. ‘One of the features of a viciously competitive media is the gleeful pleasure derived by some journalists or editors at the downfalls of others. Dog does not so much eat dog as devour it and then scavenge for more. This feeding frenzy is particularly aimed at the broadcasters whose reputation is, perhaps, jealously regarded in some parts of Fleet Street, and is exacerbated by the involvement of celebrity figures. A whiff of scandal around a programme involving Simon Cowell, Ant and Dec or Richard and Judy will be far more alluring to news editors than, say, a banking scam involving a middle-ranking bank official.’

But he says he is not yet ready to tell his communication students to pack it in for a job that earns more respect. ‘Good journalism makes a difference to the kind of society we live in, and to distrust it is eventually to destroy it. That’s why trust matters, and that’s why we should all be worried by the findings of this survey.’


  1. I think that Journalists are especially good and hfpleul when youwant to know the news of everyday life around the world. I want to be one when I am older, as I enjoy writing and I think it would be a great carrer.

    Comment by Moalnyeriehate — April 13, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  2. Guilty as charged!As I meienontd in the post, I plan to go in and add links once I finalize the list. Which is another great thing about online journalism: the ability to edit and improve a story.

    Comment by Inna — April 15, 2012 @ 2:50 am

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