28 Jul 2020

Trust is the first casualty

In lockdown, most of us turned to digital media. There wasn’t much we didn’t do online. Whatever our attitudes and expertise, people of all ages became digital natives.

We know a lot about this, courtesy of YouGov and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s annual research into the state of digital news (www.digitalnewsreport.org). They studied 80,000 adults in 40 countries. Research doesn’t get more authoritative.

Trust has declined in traditional consumer media, politicians, and institutions, but why? It’s the mixing of fact and opinion that makes it harder to know which is which. It’s fallen faster and farther online. Are those videos real? Is that fact correct? Did Einstein say that?

Trust in the news dropped 20% in the UK since 2015. Even the BBC is seen by many as pushing a view or suppressing agendas, and it’s distrusted over Brexit. The Financial Times which used to scrupulously separate fact from opinion, enabling readers to make up their own minds, succumbed too. In campaigning for causes and pushing opinions, trust is the first casualty.

There’s a gradient in trustworthiness, from BBC News (64%) and the Financial Times (58%), down to the Daily Mail/MailOnline (28%), Daily Mirror (23%), and Sun (16%) where more people distrust them than trust. Trust falls off a cliff with News in search online (15%) and News in social media (6%).

Do we care? Sixty percent prefer their consumer media to have no point of view while 28% want media that serves pre-cooked views.

It’s not just the media. We’re guilty too. Since the Hackitt review challenged the ambiguity of product information, the CPA’s Marketing Integrity Group is working to put Construction’s house in order. Lesson one, keep fact and opinion quite separate.

Want help building trust in your brand? Call Lucia on 01453 521621 or email lucia@mra-marketing.com.

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