Trust catching up with media technology – poll

May 3, 2006

Britain may have a sophisticated media industry but it also has some of the most sceptical consumers, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believing the media does not report all sides of the story.A 10-country opinion poll for Reuters, the BBC and the Media Center found British and U.S. consumers out on a limb when it comes to public levels of trust in the media.Overall trust in the media in Britain has bounced back over the past four years, from a low of 29 percent trusting in 2002 to 47 percent today. But this is still below the 10-country average of 63 percent.Americans emerged as the most critical of the news media’s balance, with 69 percent disagreeing that the media reports all sides of a story.A similar proportion, 68 percent, thought the media covered too many “bad news” stories.Polling company GlobeScan questioned 10,230 adults in the 10 countries — the UK, U.S., Brazil, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia and South Korea — and interviewed 1,000 UK residents.COUNTRIES AT WARGlobeScan President Doug Miller told Reuters he was surprised by the poll’s findings in Britain and the U.S, where levels of public trust in the media appear much lower than in developing markets.”The UK and the U.S. were outlyers across the 10 countries,” he said. “This reflects the fact that these are sophisticated markets and people are clearly attuned to the media.””In this research we did not probe exact reasons for the lower levels of trust, but our instincts as researchers tell us that it’s because the U.S. and UK are two countries at war,” he added.The low levels of trust may, he said, be related to perceptions in the U.S. that the media is too close to thegovernment on issues relating to the Iraq war.”It may have something to do with the pulling away from traditional media that we’re seeing — this move towards the Internet where people can get other perspectives on major stories that they’re not getting from the mainstream media.”GlobeScan found that 28 percent of consumers have stopped using a certain media source in the past year because it lost their trust. Miller said he believed this presented media organisations with an important lesson.”I think what we can conclude from that is that trust is a key competitive advantage in the market,” he said.Television remains the most important news source for UK citizens in a typical week, mentioned first by 55 percent of those questioned. Newspapers were second on 19 percent with radio and Internet next on 12 and 8 percent respectively.


Until the media returns to publishing news and not opinions, half truths and lies presented as facts, then the low ratings of trust will continue.
We so often read or listen to demands for peoples resignation in public life, yet I for one have yet to hear of one editor resigning over the publication of lies, even after paying massive fines after a court hearing.

Posted by Ronald Martin | Report as abusive

Being multi-linguistic I am among those who are lucky enough to evaluate the different prespective of the media.

You don’t have to go that far, just you can see the different title that they give to the same event which some times appear to be contradicotory.

They are well aware of their addressee and the very same issue which weight the same might be reporeted as a `breaking` at one might be ignored at the other.

Thanks to the alternatives, but never rely on number of visitors as there are many who click on to see how things are reported being on the spot.


Posted by Mohammed | Report as abusive

I agree with Ronald. The traditional media (TM?) have to learn that were capable of making our own mind up. When they report in a blatantly tendentious way, were forced to go to alternative sources to get the other side(s) of the story. They should peddle news, not agendas.

Posted by PeterC | Report as abusive

no, i d’ont trust the media

Posted by jdeoc | Report as abusive

Anyone know how trust in media has changed over the years in the UK/ world? What are the figures for 100, 50, 20, 20 or 5 years ago?

It would seem logical that trust in mainstream media has fallen as a direct result of the increase in alternative and independent sources of news via internet technology. Obviously, this doesn’t explain the whole picture as so many people, even in the West, are not connected, or do not use the internet for this ‘alternative’ purpose.

But it could definately be argued that the general trend towards opening up to multiple different sources of content and therefore different viewpoints can filter through to people who don’t necessarily use the internet.

In short, alternative and independent media is definately a good thing – and if it means that trust in the ‘gatekeepers’ is falling, then so be it. A little healthy scepticism never did anyone any harm.

Finally – How do you define trust in the media, surely it’s a fluid concept that changes according to the issue and the political and social environment of the time? I imagine if you asked people in the ten most censored countries (see whether they ‘trust’ their media, they would probably say yes. And they wouldn’t be wrong to say it.

Josie Hill

Posted by Josie | Report as abusive