Every year around Davos/Super Bowl time, Edelman releases its “trustbarometer” survey, which gets good pick-up in the media. For example, my esteemed colleague, Greg Hazley, posted a blog about the TB yesterday.
The tenth annual TB finds -- surprise, surprise -- that business overall isn’t much trusted these days. Trust in government regulation, however, is on the upswing.
The media’s poor showing in the TB is an eye-opener for me. The Fourth Estate scored a miserable 25 percent when Americans were asked, "...how much you trust the businesses in each of the following industries to do what is right?" That was down from a 44 percent trustworthy rating in 2008. Banks (36 percent), automotive (33 percent), insurance (31 percent) and entertainment (33 percent) trumped the press.
Edelman doesn’t spell out why the public distrusts the media. The media’s cheerleading of former President Bush’s fraudulent march to war with Iraq tops my list. That is followed by the media being asleep at the switch as the financial world crumbled. Constant media navel-gazing and endless whining about the “death of newspapers” also factor into my take on the lack of trust situation.
The public, according to the TB, won’t shed too many tears over the loss of newspapers. “Articles in newspapers” (at 34 percent) are deemed the least credible sources of information. The most trusted source of information is “stock or industry analyst reports,” weighing in at 47 percent. Figure that one out -- shills surpass hacks.
Edelman’s report carries a bit of good news for the PR community. Corporate communications (press releases, reports, emails) are ranked credible sources by 26 percent of respondents, while corporate or product advertising gets a 13 percent rating.