Officials and journalists 'least trusted' for coronavirus news: Edelman Trust Barometer

The public trust government officials and journalists the least as sources of information about the coronavirus, while three-quarters of people fear 'fake news' about the pandemic.

Credit: ©GettyImages
Credit: ©GettyImages

That's according to a special report into the coronavirus from the Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveyed 10,000 people on 6-10 March in 10 countries: Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and the US.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents said they would believe information from their employers after one or two exposures, versus 58 per cent for a government website and 51 per cent for traditional media.

The most-trusted sources of information were scientists and “my doctor” – 83 per cent and 82 per cent, respectively – while 85 per cent want to hear more from scientists and less from politicians.

There is also a reliance on communities: 63 per cent view “a person like yourself” as a trusted source of information.

The "CEO of my employer” falls squarely in the middle as a trusted source.

In addition, in eight of the 10 countries surveyed, “my employer” is seen as better prepared for the virus than the respondent's country – 62 per cent trust “my employer” to respond effectively and responsibly to the virus.

But employees expects transparency from employers. They want clarity on a range of topics, including how many colleagues have contracted the virus (57 per cent) to how the virus is affecting the organisation’s ability to operate (53 per cent).

Employees want to be informed beyond the effect on the company, including advice on travel and what can be done to stop the spread of the virus. Their preferred medium for getting this information is via email or newsletter (48 per cent), followed by posts on the company website (33 per cent) and phone/video conferences (23 per cent).

In addition, 63 per cent want daily updates from their employers, and 20 per cent want communications several times a day

People trust business and government to act effectively in partnership more than they trust either entity alone. The survey found 45 per cent trust a combined business/government effort, while 20 per cent trust government combatting the virus alone. Business alone is one-quarter as trusted as government alone in fighting the virus.

Expectations of businesses are high: 78 per cent of respondents expect business to act to protect employees and the local community, while 79 per cent expect firms to adapt their operations, including remote working, cancelling non-essential events and business travel bans.

A similar proportion (73 per cent) count on business to adapt HR policies; for example, by giving paid sick leave or preventing at-risk employees from coming to work.

Meanwhile, concern about fake news and false information about coronavirus is also high – 74 per cent of respondents share this concern.

Despite this, the public relies on mainstream news organisations nearly twice as much as global health organisations such as the World Health Organization and national counterparts. Social media is the least-trusted source of information in developed markets.

People are checking for information frequently, the survey also reports.

Seven in 10 respondents check at least once per day, and 33 per cent check several times a day. People check more frequently in Italy, South Korea and Japan, which have had major outbreaks.

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