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Trust in journalists in steep decline, says YouGov research

September 23rd, 2010Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers, Politics

Trust in journalists has plummeted over the past seven years, according to a survey conducted by YouGov for Prospect Magazine.

YouGov has been assessing people’s trust in various communicators, decision makers and service providers since 2003, and the forthcoming edition of Prospect compares the polling agency’s latest findings with its first.

Unsurprisingly, politicians have taken a hit since the Iraq war and trade union leaders won’t be going to the prom with the captain of the football team any time soon.

But there has also been an alarming fall in the ratings for journalists. In 2003, ITV journalists had a trust rating of a little over 80 per cent. That figure had fallen by 33 percentage points by August this year, putting BBC news journalists in the lead.

But the BBC might not be getting asked to babysit or look after anybody’s car: trust in its news journalists has dropped 21 points since 2003, down from 81 to 60 per cent.

And it’s a similar story elsewhere: “upmarket” newspapers (Times, Telegraph, Guardian) have suffered a 24 point knock down to 41 per cent in the latest figures; mid-markets (Mail, Express) are down from around 35 to 21 per cent; the red-tops from 14 to just 10 per cent.

By comparison, leading Labour politicians scored 23 per cent, leading Liberals 27 per cent and leading Tories, who were the only group on the survey to win an increase in trust, went from a meagre 20 per cent in 2003 to 29 per cent now.

YouGov’s surveys have consistently found more trust in local, rather than national professionals. GPs, teachers, police constables and local MPs are apparently deemed more trustworthy.

Unfortunately, the polls don’t include data for local journalists. Does the tendency to trust local professionals extend to the local hacks? Are there areas where people trust their hyperlocal start-up more than the age-old local rag?

Feel free to chime in with your own opinions in the comments thread or on Twitter with #trustinjournos. Even though most of you are journalists yourselves…

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  • http://www.socialprblog.com Marcie Bell

    I wonder when this research was conducted? No reference to it in the post above but phone hacking furore would certainly have increased the decline in trust of journos to make the picture even bleaker. Interesting question about trust in local journalists – I would imagine trust levels would be higher as relationships are likely to be closer. I wonder why aren’t local journos included

  • http://talkabotlocal.org william perrin

    the defintive long term data on trust in professions including journalists and politicians is the ipsos mori series running since 1983

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/newsevents/ca/ca.aspx?oItemId=32

  • http://www.journalism.co.uk Joel Gunter

    Marcie – The research was conducted between 2003 and last month:

    “Trust in journalists has plummeted over the past seven years, according to a survey conducted by YouGov for Prospect Magazine

    “YouGov has been assessing people’s trust in various communicators, decision makers and service providers since 2003, and the forthcoming edition of Prospect compares the polling agency’s latest findings with its first.”

    I agree that trust would likely be higher, as it is with other local professionals according to the study. I am waiting to hear back form YouGov about whether they have conducted any similar research with regard to local journalists and investigating elsewhere also. Pointers welcome.

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  • http://finitebreaths.com/ Russell

    No surprise really, especially given the sensationalism and drivel that passes for “journalism” 90% of the time. However, probably no coincidence that the Iraq war is mentioned as journalists’ willingness to “embed”” with troops (rather than remain independent) must be a factor for the more discerning audience.

    I find that local journalists generally get more respect.

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