Middleberg survey finds media losing trust in executives

NEW YORK: According the ninth annual Middleberg/Ross survey of media, journalists say they have lost a significant amount of trust in stock analysts, CEOs, and CFOs over the course of the past year.

NEW YORK: According the ninth annual Middleberg/Ross survey of media, journalists say they have lost a significant amount of trust in stock analysts, CEOs, and CFOs over the course of the past year.

The same survey said that journalist are now more likely to consider academics as much more credible sources.

The findings come in the wake of a year filled with several high-profile scandals that ensnared the top management of many companies, and led to serious doubts about the manner in which Wall Street stock analysts conduct their research.

"Journalists say that academics are the most reliable source they can go to," said Don Middleberg, CEO of Euro RSCG Middleberg, which co-sponsored the survey with Steven Ross, associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. "This is a clear indication how the reputation damage we've seen in recent months may affect journalists' coverage."

Along with academics, industry analysts working at independent research firms like Gartner or Forrester Research also scored high marks.

According to the survey, more than two-thirds of respondents believe financial analysts to be less trustworthy this year than last. The finding could be significant in that stock analysts had been among the press' favorite sources for quotes on corporate news during the boom times of the late 1990s.

By contrast, 52% said academics are likely to inform their perceptions of a news event, issue, market, or trend.

Forty percent of respondents also said that unethical, illegal, or questionable behavior on the part of a company's executive office correlates to a company's stock price.

The vast majority of journalists - 85% - use corporate websites for financial information, although they put the highest trust in the federal government's EDGAR database of filings to the SEC.

The survey was based on responses from more than 774 journalists working at newspapers, magazines, and broadcast outlets nationwide.

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