Britons find media hard to trust
Reuters – May 3, 2006
Britain may have a sophisticated media industry but it also has some of the most sceptical consumers, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believing the media does not report all sides of the story.
A 10-country opinion poll for Reuters, the BBC and the Media Centre found British and U.S. consumers out on a limb when it comes to public levels of trust in the media.
Overall trust in the media in Britain has bounced back over the past four years, from a low of 29 percent trusting in 2002 to 47 percent today. But this is still below the 10-country average of 63 percent.
Americans emerged as the most critical of the news media's balance, with 69 percent disagreeing that the media reports all sides of a story.
A similar proportion, 68 percent, thought the media covered too many "bad news" stories.
Polling company GlobeScan questioned 10,230 adults in the 10 countries -- the UK, U.S., Brazil, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia and South Korea -- and interviewed 1,000 UK residents.
Countries at War
GlobeScan President Doug Miller told Reuters he was surprised by the poll's findings in Britain and the U.S, where levels of public trust in the media appear much lower than in developing markets.
"The UK and the U.S. were outlyers across the 10 countries," he said. "This reflects the fact that these are sophisticated markets and people are clearly attuned to the media."
"In this research we did not probe exact reasons for the lower levels of trust, but our instincts as researchers tell us that it's because the U.S. and UK are two countries at war," he added.
The low levels of trust may, he said, be related to perceptions in the U.S. that the media is too close to the government on issues relating to the Iraq war.
"It may have something to do with the pulling away from traditional media that we're seeing -- this move towards the Internet where people can get other perspectives on major stories that they're not getting from the mainstream media."
GlobeScan found that 28 percent of consumers have stopped using a certain media source in the past year because it lost their trust. Miller said he believed this presented media organisations with an important lesson.
"I think what we can conclude from that is that trust is a key competitive advantage in the market," he said.
Television remains the most important news source for UK citizens in a typical week, mentioned first by 55 percent of those questioned. Newspapers were second on 19 percent with radio and Internet next on 12 and 8 percent respectively.
Last updated 05/05/2006