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January 18, 2024

Trust in media: UK drops to last place in Edelman survey of 28 nations

The annual survey asked how much people trust the media "to do what is right".

By Charlotte Tobitt

The UK saw the biggest drop in trust in the media and was the least-trusted out of 28 countries surveyed for the latest Edelman Trust Barometer.

The UK fell to the bottom of the ranking, with 31% of people saying they trusted the media in a November survey – a drop of six percentage points since the 2023 Trust Barometer.

PR firm Edelman did not speculate about the reasons for the UK’s particular fall but in the past couple of years Tiktok has rapidly risen as a news source, Prince Harry has successfully exposed patterns of historical phone-hacking at Mirror Group Newspapers and won the right to take an unlawful information gathering claim against the Daily Mail’s publisher to trial, and the BBC (Huw Edwards), ITV (Phillip Schofield) and GB News (Dan Wootton) have all been hit with presenter scandals.

Respondents were asked to score institutions by “how much you trust that institution to do what is right”.

The UK’s figure is comparable to the 33% who said they have faith in the media in the latest Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

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Last year South Korea and Japan had lower trust in the media than the UK, but they are now on 37% and 33% respectively.

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South Korea’s was the biggest jump, up ten percentage points, followed by India, up five percentage points.

The biggest declines in trust in the media after the UK were in Argentina (down five percentage points to 33%) and the US (down four to 39%).

However it is worth noting that China is top of the ranking but is one of the least free countries for the press in the world (179th according to Reporters Without Borders). Similarly United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are near the top of the table but are 145th and 170th in the World Press Freedom Index.

The average trust score in the media across the 28 countries surveyed was 50%. The media is distrusted in 15 of those countries, which had around 1,150 respondents taking part in 30-minute online interviews.

Across the world journalists have become less trusted to tell the truth: 64% said journalists and reporters are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations” – a three percentage point rise compared to the year before.

In addition, just under half (47%) of people trust journalists to tell them the truth about new innovations and technologies.

The UK is also among the least-trusting countries overall, when joint scores for trust in the media, business, government and non-governmental organisations are looked at. The UK’s average trust score is 39%, down from 43% last year in the joint-biggest fall, putting it joint with Argentina and Japan.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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