UK public trust in traditional media rises

Laura Rutkowski

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2018, published last month, shows that trust in broadcasters and publishers in the UK has increased 13 points to 61%, reaching its highest level in six years.

Trust in journalists in the UK has increased 13 points from 19% to 32%, the annual global study found.

The credibility of journalists is rising worldwide and higher levels of trust are being placed in them over social media platforms, with credibility of “ a person like yourself” – a peer posting on social media, for example – drastically falling.

Trust in social media platforms and search engines has declined to 24%.

“In a world where facts are under siege, credentialed sources are proving more important than ever,” said Stephen Kehoe, Edelman’s Global Chair of Reputation. “There are credibility problems for both platforms and sources. People’s trust in them is collapsing, leaving a vacuum and an opportunity for bona fide experts to fill.”

Young people aged 16 to 18 are turning away from social media, especially Facebook. Thirty-three per cent use Facebook less than they did a year ago and 11% quit Facebook in the past year.

Of those surveyed, 70% of people think social media companies do not do enough to prevent illegal or unethical behaviours on their platforms, 63% per cent think they lack transparency and 62% per cent think they’re selling people’s data without their knowledge.

Other findings from the report showed that almost seven in 10 respondents worry about fake news and false information being used as a weapon. When browsing social media, 53% of people are concerned about being exposed to fake news, and 64% are unable to differentiate quality journalism from fake news.

“Silence is a tax on the truth,” Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman, weighed in. “Trust is only going to be regained when the truth moves back to centre stage. Institutions must answer the public’s call for providing factually accurate, timely information and joining the public debate.

“Media cannot do it alone because of political and financial constraints. Every institution must contribute to the education of the populace.”

Despite these positive results, media was reported as the least-trusted institution for the first time since the Trust Barometer’s inception in 2001. This seemingly contradictory finding is due to what respondents viewed as the media, with some crediting social media (48%) and search engines (25%) in the category, alongside journalism (89%).

In the face of these figures, the media needs to instil the public with confidence and continue to rebuild broken trust – but it is more than up for the challenge.

The Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s annual trust and credibility survey. Originally, it measured responses from 1,300 people across five countries. Now, it is a globally recognised measure of trust. 

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