NEWS22 January 2018

Media is the least trusted institution, driven by fake news and social media

Asia Pacific Europe Latin America Media Middle East and Africa News North America Trends UK

GLOBAL – Trust in media has decreased globally, as a result of declining confidence in search engines and social media platforms, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.

Newspaper text_crop

The annual survey of 28 countries has indicated no recovery in trust in government, business, the media and NGOs in the past year.

Media is now the least trusted institution globally, distrusted in 22 of the countries surveyed. Seven out of 10 respondents are worried that fake news could be used as a weapon, while 63% felt that the average person cannot distinguish between good journalism and rumour or falsehoods, and 59% say it is becoming harder to tell if a piece of journalism has been produced by a respected news organisation.

However, while trust in media is down, people are more trusting of journalism – trust in the profession increased by five points globally, while confidence in platforms (including social media) declined by two points.

Over half ( 56%) said they have lost trust in government leaders as a result of the media not fulfilling its responsibilities. Half of those surveyed interact with mainstream media less than once a week, with a quarter claiming they do not consume any media at all.

However, faith in authority has been revived somewhat. Technical experts ( 63%) and academic experts ( 61%) were viewed as the most credible spokespeople – both increasing from the 2017 survey – while trust in ‘a person like yourself’ dropped to 54% – its lowest level since tracking began.

The US has experienced the biggest decline in trust since the study began, dropping by nine points on average. This increased to a decline of 23 points amongst the informed public. China, meanwhile, experienced an increase of seven points on average across all institutions. 

Stephen Kehoe, global chair of reputation at Edelman, said: "In a world where facts are under siege, credentialed sources are proving more important than ever, 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."

Edelman conducted an online survey of 33,000 people across 28 countries between 28 October and 20 November 2017.