Surveys show slump in public trust in the press – Brian Cathcart

13 09 2013

trust_meter2Two surveys published in the last two months confirm in stark terms what other surveys and polls have been telling us: the public doesn’t trust the press.

One is the latest British Social Attitudes survey, which found that only 27 per cent of a sample of 950 adults questioned in 2012 believed that the press in this country was ‘well run’. That compares with 53 per cent when the question was last asked in 1983.

Only banks were given a lower rating, with a 19 per cent score, while trade unions (33 per cent), the NHS (54 per cent) and the police (65 per cent) all did better. The BBC scored 63 per cent, though the respondents gave their view before the recent scandals there.

The other survey is by the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, which publishes a Global Corruption Barometer every year. It asked 114,000 people in 107 countries which of 12 institutions in their countries they considered most corrupt.

Only in Britain, Egypt and Australia did the media top the table of perceived corruption. In Britain 69 per cent of respondents said the media were the most corrupt, up from 39 per cent three years ago.

The British Social Attitudes findings were published on 10th September 2013, and the Transparency International findings on 9th July 2013. Neither was reported or mentioned, so far as we can detect, in the Times, the Daily Express, the Sun, the Daily Star or the Daily Mirror. The Telegraph and FT ran stories on the BSA survey, but did not find space to mention the media trust angle.

Thus the pattern of newspapers hiding bad news about their industry from their readers is continued. That pattern of economy with the facts must itself be a reason why trust is as such low levels.

Do such surveys matter? Does trust matter? It might be argued that what really matters is sales. It could also be said that journalism is always unpopular and that in a way it should be unpopular because it does society’s dirty work.

Brian Cathcart is the Executive Director of Hacked Off.


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