Polls fuel debate over trust in the media

April 27, 2006

Tony Blair
By Guy Dresser

LONDON (Reuters) – Journalists do not traditionally enjoy a high place in the public esteem, but a new survey has prompted some commentators to suggest that a difference is emerging between attitudes towards print and broadcast media.

Just 16 percent of British adults trust journalists to tell the truth, a study by opinion pollsters Mori found last year.

The figure was even lower than the 20 percent scored by politicians and left journalists at the bottom of the scale, according to Julia Clark, a senior research executive with the polling company.

“We ask what profession people trust most to tell the truth and we have run this survey for several years,” she told Reuters.

“The figures move up and down but the overall trend is unchanged. Journalists as a group remain at the bottom, along with estate agents and used car salesmen.”

Despite Mori’s apparently downbeat findings for journalists in general, television news readers emerge as people that the public would trust to tell the truth.

Of the 2,000 adults questioned, 63 percent gave them the thumbs up, putting them just behind scientists (70 percent), priests (73), judges (76), professors (77), teachers (88) and doctors (91).

Mori’s findings on broadcast media last year are echoed by the annual media literacy report from UK communications regulator Ofcom on April 26.

It found that 78 percent of adults trust television news providers, 76 percent trust radio news and 63 percent trust news Web sites.

The figure for newspapers is 46 per cent.

Justin Lewis, professor of communication at the Cardiff School of Journalism, believes old stereotypes could be to blame.

“When people are asked the question about how far they trust journalists, the image they have is of the foot in the door, the cheque book, the sleaze, the probing into people’s private lives,” he told Reuters.

“But if you ask them about News at Ten it’s different.”

Another academic, Professor Adrian Monck, head of journalism and publishing at City University in London, believes that different regulatory regimes could be responsible.
“The issue of trust is one of those hilarious polling issues but what is it really telling us about journalism? The fact is that in both surveys the figures are higher for the broadcast media than they are for print.

“My inference is that the broadcast media are benefiting from the fact that people know they have to get it right because they, unlike newspapers, are regulated.

“I have argued in the past that it would be useful for the print media in the UK to think about being regulated in the same way as the broadcast media.

“My argument is that if Sky News can manage it with Adam Boulton, then the Times can manage it with their political people,’ Monck said.

Journalists themselves sometimes admit to having a jaundiced view of colleagues.

Investigative journalist Donal Macintyre says that featuring on the gossip pages of tabloid newspapers as well as in front of the camera has given him a different perspective.

“I think it is sad that the public has a view like this of journalists, but it’s not surprising. I distrust about 70 percent of the media.

“Being on the cusp of working as an investigative journalist and crossing the boundary into the world of celebrity, I see what people write about me.

“Sure, in proper publications and on the BBC and Sky News, people understand that journalists are doing their best, but it’s the tabloids people distrust,” he added.

“I think cynicism is deliberately focused here on the lighter end of the media and the audience is right — much of what you read is nonsense.

“Most of the profiles written about me can’t even spell my name right, let alone get other facts down correctly.”


Investigative reporting has gone out the window, not that it isn’t out there, you just have to look for it. The story on the front page is so far from the truth, unless you dig deep, you will be clueless – and this is wrong – with our busy lives, many of us don’t have time for this. We’re not stupid, just give us the facts, from both sides, we can figure it out, but I’m sick and tired of hearing about what Bush says. That’s not news, that’s propaganda.


The main reason is most in the media do not report facts anymore. The manipulate the truth to support their viewpoint and push their agenda. We used to call this yellow journalism. Now it is journalism.If news agencies in all types of media could actual report unbiased facts without their slant an opinion people would trust it more. Instead they only tell you the items that support the view of the paper or the reporter, and leave out items that would not.Additionally there is a lack of serious, unbiased thought and analysis, instead of the sensationalizing and demonizing of those that disagree with the reporter/news organization.And lastly, reporters spend more time being buddy-buddy with politicians and others in power instead of asking the hard questions they need to ask when the person they are interviewing is a member of their school of thought. For example, a left leaning paper rip a right wing politician for things they say or do, while totally ignoring it when a left wing politician is in the same situation.

Posted by Jason The American | Report as abusive

media is controlled no doubt about it, otherwise they would cover bilderberg meetings

Posted by christen | Report as abusive

The mainstream media is biased and supports only Liberals. We watch only Fox, and learn a lot from the Internet. It is obvious that CBS, NBC and ABC tout their own Political views on their news casts and even insert negativity towards Conservative views on their TV series.The public does not receive “FAIR AND BALANCED” reporting and therefore remains oblivious to both sides of any current News situation. The information they receive is so one sided it is ridiculous. We are being force fed what the stations want us to believe, and I worry that most Americans are not even aware of the items being left out of the NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Dolores Grissom | Report as abusive

When I read a Reuters paragraph such as: ”Computer models predict average surface temperatures on Earth will increase between 3.5 degrees Celsius and 9 degrees F over the next 100 years.” – I think to myself: [[TRANSLATION for non-ISV-speakers: ”will increase between 3.5 apples and 9 oranges”]] – the media sheep who bleat latest pop-headlines without a clue in physics or math, do NOT inspire much trust. In today’s tech-world, journalists should be REQUIRED to have education in the hard sciences, NOT social “science.”

Posted by ACWeber | Report as abusive

The FAILURE of the media is to explore the good AND bad of both the real policy AND the alternative.Facts alone would be too boring — it’s unrealistic to expect most folks to get thru too many facts. But to explain meaning, a journalist must think the facts mean something — and then the facts which assist in “helping” the reader understand the “correct” meaning become the important facts.This is why more pro-life reporters are needed; why more pro-Iraq war reporters are needed; why more pro-tax cut reporters are needed.How many Iraqis have been interviewed by Reuters and had their comments show up in “news reports”?How many were interviewed but did NOT get their comments reported?How many Iraqis with relatives missing in some of the hundreds of mass graves have been interviewed; and asked what they think of the US Liberation/ occupation?


One of the biggest burdens for journalists must be keeping themselves out of the story, and resisting the temptation to try and shape that story. Then again, reading someone else’s opinion is always insightful, lets you compare your own. When the medium BECOMES the story though, I think a lot of people haven’t done their jobs.The basics of ‘who, what, when, where, how, and why’, are the meat and potatoes of any news article. Think about how the story would read if the milk truck crashed outside your house, and what would be important to tell in the story. Not a lot of opinion, just the basics. Separating news from opinion is hard, which is why your best journalists keep their opinions out of things. It’s not censorship, it’s just professionalism. You hear about ‘spin this, spin that’ etc., basically when you hear a lot of that it means that the editors need to fire some people or help them to review their performance or something. If the editor’s the guy/gal responsible for what finally goes in the paper, then it’s their job to perform their editorial duties to a high professional standard and ensure that their news staff does similarly or else face getting released from their employment.I love to read the paper, or as case may be, the e-paper, and the internet will keep you busy for hours. But, it’s always important to remember that everyone’s selling something, inCLUDING more newspapers. Profit motive is a huge concern, as that by itself can influence people to say and do things they might not say or do otherwise. The guy who’s sponsored by the washer and dryer corporation isn’t going to be as prone to tell you about water or power shortages, for example. In today’s news, gasoline’s the big deal, and there’s more than one corporation that sells gasoline. What paper do THEY advertise in? Hmmm….

Posted by Bert | Report as abusive

Media is propaganda of the ones in PowerI am also sick of the desinformation the media giveYou are owned by the big business like General Motors, Ahlstom, General Electric, PharmaceuticalsIt is a tapestry of Lies you produce!Read Nobel Price winner 2005 Harold PinterAnd you think we donot know!All the world sees it with his own Eyes. A child can understand….were are the mass destruction weaponswere is the plane in the pentagon?not very inspiring

Posted by val | Report as abusive

i get my news mainly from Free Speech TV: freespeech.orgEveryone should see the documentary “Orwell Rolls in his Grave”, which is available on that site as well.It is sad that our mainstream media would rather cover the “War on Christmas” than uncover the real stories that are happening everyday, that are relevant to ALL Americans. It is even sadder that most Americans are so gullible they believe what they see on the news and form their “opinions” from it.

Posted by truepunkrocksoulcrusader | Report as abusive

People tend to believe whatever is written/aired as truth. When this information becomes biased and one sided it causes one to question the American media. Why has the “news” become a time to browbeat our Republican leaders and question the judgment of people that we as Americans voted into office? The view of the media does not accurately reflect that of the people. When people take their “right” of free speech and use it to defame the very country that gave them that right I must question their ethics. Given the fact that most of these people are in the media I, for one, have had to almost completely disregard what I hear in the “news” and get my information from more reliable sources. Sources that report the whole story, not just what makes the opposing party look bad.

Posted by Concerned | Report as abusive

Honestly, the only reasonably objective sources of serious investigative journalism on TV these days are the BBC and Al Jazeera. If you want good, objective English language reporting on most topics, turn to the BBC. On the other hand, if you want to know what’s actually happening in the Middle East, sorry, you have to learn Arabic. The information simply isn’t available in English, because American and British news organizations simply don’t have the staff, funding, or access to bring it to us. Al-Jazeera’s far from perfect, but its reporters are dedicated, hard-nosed professionals who still do honest to goodness investigative reporting, instead of recycling happy face “news product” provided by the very governments they’re supposed to be reporting on. And I do mean governments: they give Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and their own home base of Qatar just as hard a time as they give the United States. Americans would do well to watch this channel; contrary to certain people’s claims, it is quite politically moderate — far too moderate for the many Arabs who prefer to get their news from (I kid you not) Hizballah’s channel. Strangely Donald Rumsfeld and co. have never bombed, censored, or even complained much about THAT channel, which really is run by terrorists and really does spout antisemitism and hatred. Makes you wonder if it’s Al Jazeera’s politics they’re worried about … or their independent reporting?


The media in America is biased and one sided just like some other countries. Our media labels other Countries news service as “State Sponsored News” but fail to recognize that our own media is Corporate and Politician Controlled news. They only report on issues based that benefit American Policy. They don’t report the truth but rather they report on issues to gain support or opposition to an issue. I don’t trust the news i hear on the major news media but rather get my news from select news sources on the internet. The news is not the truth anymore, It’s what the politicians and CEO’s want you to hear. The vast majority of people have fallen victim to this new lie and twisting of the truth.

Posted by Honesty and Credibility | Report as abusive

Of course the media is biased. However it is both our fault and theirs. Media serves what sells and whatever benefits them. The root of the problem at hand is the media policies that allow a small number of huge corporations to control nearly all that is broadcast or written. Corporations like Time Warner and Viacom practically own all the “public” airwaves. If you want change in the media WE must change the policies. Largly amature LPFM radio stations have made some progress in this field. They have changed long standing FCC rules, but the fight is not over. The key to a proper, unbiased, “fair and balanced” media is policy change. Through policy change that breaks up media conglomeration and domination, REAL change will occur.

Posted by Jonathan G | Report as abusive

You want a trustworthy media than fight for it! Change FCC rules. Or create your own local media outlets… for example websites, online magazines, pirate radio, LPFM, ect.Complaining gets you no where… take action.

Posted by PROGRESS | Report as abusive

omg someone called fox ‘fair and balanced!’ only fascists claim that and fools believe it. do a little research into murdoch and the way fox operates if you are going to so blindly trust them.dear, god, you are like a loyal nazi soldier.

Posted by 24hr propaganda network | Report as abusive