Online-only media ‘least trustworthy institution in Ireland’

Edelman report shows trust in traditional media has risen but it has fallen for NGOs

Faith in the Government is unchanged at 32 per cent on the year

Faith in the Government is unchanged at 32 per cent on the year

 

The rise of fake news has helped further erode faith in the media, according to a new report that finds it is now the least trusted institution in Ireland.

However, while trust in online-only media has plummeted, faith in traditional media has increased over the last two years, the study shows.

The latest Edelman Ireland Trust Barometer, which surveyed 1,150 people in October, shows faith in the media fell 10 per cent to 29 per cent last year, having recorded a 6 per cent decline between 2012 and 2017. The findings form part of a wider global report of 33,000 people.

Trust in business and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has also continued to fall in Ireland, the report reveals, with just 2 percentage points now separating the two institutions. Faith in NGOs is down 6 per cent to 43 per cent, while trust in business fell 2 per cent to 41 per cent.

Crisis of trust

Faith in the Government is unchanged at 32 per cent versus last year, the study shows.

The research suggests a crisis of trust in institutions generally with some 59 per cent of Irish respondents claiming the system has failed them and just 15 per cent stating it is working properly.

Those who are more educated and who claim to be better informed are more likely to report a lack of trust in institutions, according to the report.

The cycle of distrust is magnified by what is seen as the emergence of a media echo chamber that reinforces personal beliefs while shutting out opposing points of view.

Faith in media in particular has declined dramatically both here and in other jurisdictions. However, trust in traditional media rose to 56 per cent over the last year in Ireland, a period during which online-only media recorded a seven per cent drop on 2016 levels, from 48 per cent to 41 per cent.

Credibility

The credibility of chief executive officers as spokespeople has reached an all-time low, dropping 16 points over the last year. The survey shows an individual’s peers are seen as considerably more credible than either company executives or government officials.

The most credible spokespeople in Ireland were deemed to be academics, technical experts and “a person like yourself”.

“Speaking at the unveiling of the findings, Joe Carmody, managing director of Edelman Ireland, said the last 12 months has been a period of almost unimaginable upheaval globally.

“The findings of the 2017 trust barometer help provide a roadmap for understanding the forces that influenced the tide of populist action that swept across many western-style democracies,” he said.

“Ireland must consider itself on notice for the rise of populism. Once the majority of the population believes that the system is no longer serving them, they also become vulnerable to the fears that can fuel anti-establishment actions,” Mr Carmody said.