It’s really hard not to take it personally.
The recently published 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey that involves more than 33,000 respondents in 28 countries indicates trust in journalists is at an all-time low.
The survey notes 59 per cent of respondents believe “journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”
Not biased, or incompetent, or overworked, or misinformed but PURPOSELY trying to mislead. And not 15 or 20 per cent of people, nearly 60.
Imagine going to work everyday and doing your very best to provide the best information you can and finding out that even then nearly two-thirds of people think not that you’re bad at your job, but you’re personally a dishonest, unethical person just because of your profession.
I have a poster on the wall in my office that reads: Journalism: It’s a thankless job with long hours, intense deadlines and crappy pay, but on the other hand, everybody hates you.
In any event, it doesn’t matter. In fact, I can’t really say I blame people. Those who understand media get that there is a spectrum of people good and bad in the profession.
Those who don’t may have a hard time distinguishing the good from the bad and it’s easier just to generally mistrust.
What really disturbs me about the 2021 barometer (the theme of which is aptly “Declaring information bankruptcy”) is not what it says about how people feel about journalists, but that generally trust has broken down across society.
The whole thing has turned upside down. According to the 2021 report the most trusted institution is now business, trusted by 61 per cent of respondents (18 of 27 countries) compared to NGOs (57 per cent), government (53 per cent) and media (51 per cent).
Given how vilified science has become, scientists came off really well. Among “leaders” who people are most likely to trust, scientists came out on top at 71 per cent of respondents.
Of course, if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that people tend to seek out the sources of information or misinformation that confirms what they want to believe (confirmation bias).
If you look hard enough you can find someone who will say what you need them to so you can carry on without changing anything.
The trust deficit in society is really concerning.
How did we get to the point that rather than having different ideas, we have to project the worst of ulterior motives on those we disagree with.