So let’s get this straight. Senior bankers’ recklessness and greed prompt a global depression. Then many of the individuals who brought their businesses close to bankruptcy happily accept generous bonuses or payoffs. Nevertheless bankers (with a 31 per cent trust rating) still have a better reputation than the media (28 per cent).
For we journalists this is deeply worrying. It should also be of concern to those people – PR professionals – who have a synergistic relationship with the media.
Why such a low level of trust? One problem with this statistic is that it provides an average. So while trust may actually be high in print products such as the Financial Times or The Economist, it is probably much lower in the News of the World or the Daily Express, which have been accused of invasions of privacy, of gaining stories by deception, or even of getting things horribly wrong (Robert Murat).
Another factor may be the financial hardship experienced by most commercially funded media. The double-whammy of an advertising slump and competition from free online media means that editors are being forced to cut costs and ultimately the quality of their output.
Despite this, the most worrying trend is a significant drop in trust across all forms of media; newspapers, TV news and radio.
This may be a serious case of ‘shooting the messenger’. People just don’t like hearing bad news, whether this is global recession, war in Gaza or the Baby P scandal.
Indeed the BBC and business journalists are receiving growing complaints that they are responsible for ‘talking us into recession’. There is even a select committee inquiry into this issue next week.
It is something that editors everywhere need to consider, but equally the public needs to consider whether it wants to hear more cheerful stories, or the harsh truth.