Gordon Crovitz
Gordon Crovitz

News flash: Trust in media rose in 16 of 26 global markets surveyed last year by Edelman’s 20th Trust Barometer.

India led the pack as trust in that country’s press jumped nine percent to 73 percent. Mexico and Spain ranked next, advancing six percent to 59 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

The Chinese are most trusting as 80 percent of them give a thumbs-up to the state-run media. That high level of trust is probably due to the reluctance of respondents to criticize the Beijing government.

Saudi Arabia suffered the biggest drop in media trust, a 17 percent fall-off to 46 percent. The torture, murder and dismemberment of Saudi dissident and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi may have triggered that crash.

The UAE ranked next with a seven percent decline to 53 percent, followed by Canada’s four percent dip to 53 percent.

Despite the steady drumbeat anti-media rants by President Trump, US trust remained at 48 percent

The Edelman survey found traditional media are more trusted than social media by a 61 percent to 40 percent margin.

The firm also reported that 72 percent of respondents in 28 countries surveyed believe companies should stop advertising with any media platform that fails to prevent the spread of fake news and false information.

Only 64 percent of US respondents hold advertisers accountable for fake news on sites on which they advertise.

That does not bode well ahead of the presidential election as Vladimir Putin’s troll farms are expected to spring into action once again. 

And speaking of propaganda, former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz blasted US companies that rely solely on “programmatic advertising,” which is the placement of ads by algorithms without consideration of the content or journalistic standards of the sites.

In his Jan. 22 New York Times op-ed piece, Crovitz wrote that algorithmic advertisers such as Geico, Best Buy and ETrade help fund Putin’s Sputnik News propaganda site.

Putin's other top disinformation vehicle, RT.com, attracted more than 475 programmatic advertisers during a recent six-month period. That lot includes Amazon, Wal-Mart, Kroger and PayPay.

By supporting those sites, US advertisers help Russia promote divisiveness in the US and Kremlin lies such as the one denying that ally Syria used nerve gas on its own people.

Crovitz is co-founder of NewsGuard, which helps companies determine what sites are “safe” for their brands.

He said advertisers that restrict programmatic ads to trustworthy sites return ad dollars to publishers that badly need the support.

Those advertisers also give Putin a poke in the eye.