Credibility gaps everywhere
: The other day, I posted the momentous news from Gallup that trust in big media has declined markedly. Tor the first time in recent history, more people distrust than trust big media. That is big news (which, no, we haven’t seen prominently displayed on the news).
But big media isn’t alone with declining trust.
In the post below, I quoted results of a USC/Annenberg Center for the Digital Future study on Internet v. TV time and when I went to the original study, I found some sobering stats on the public’s trust of the internet — and particularly of sites created by individuals — which, of course, includes blogs.
Now this could just be the general cooties attached to the internet and to personal home pages from the start. But I think it’s more than that.
First, I do fear that the tone of much of what comes from the internet and blogs contributes to this; thus my sermonizing on mud-slinging. I doubt that contributes much to this decline in trust, but I will say that we’d better watch out, or it will.
I also think that there’s a new skepticism rising in the land (and it’s not necessarily a bad thing): Just as we come to distrust big media more, and just as we come to realize that we can go to the source of news ourselves and judge for ourselves, we have to wake up to the notion that making that judgment isn’t easy. We’re not sure whom to believe. Call that mistrust. Or call that cynicism. Or call that healthy skepticism. When every citizen becomes his own reporter, every citizen becomes as skeptical as a reporter should be.
I actually think that the Rathergate case will improve the reputation of internet (and individual) media. If this survey were taken again today, I’d just bet that among those aware of the Rathergate story and of the internet’s and blogs’ role in it, we’d gain a few points. But that’s only a bet.
The USC study says:
Web sites mounted by established media (such as nytimes.com) ranked highest in perceived accuracy and reliability; 74.4 of users say that most or all information on established media Web sites is reliable and accurate.
Government Web sites also fared well with users in the current study; 73.5 percent say that most or all of the information on government Web sites is reliable and accurate.
Information pages posted by individuals have the lowest credibility; only 9.5 percent of users say the information on Web sites posted by individuals is reliable and accurate.
Even though large percentages of users say that most or all of the information on Web sites posted by established media and the government is reliable and accurate, it is worth noting that significant numbers of users believe that only half or less of information on these sites is reliable and accurate; 25.7 percent of users say that about half or less of news sites posted by established media are reliable and accurate, while 26.5 percent of users judge that about half or less of government Web sites are reliable and accurate….
Of very experienced users, 83.5 percent say that most or all of the information on news pages posted by established media is reliable and accurate, compared to 49.1 percent of new users who provide the same response.
When asked about government Web sites, 81.4 percent of very experienced users, compared to 50.1 percent of new users, say that most or all of the information on those sites is reliable and accurate.
New users and very experienced users agree about the low credibility of information posted by individuals; only 9.2 percent of very experienced users and 7.5 percent of new users say that most or all of the information on pages posted by individuals is reliable and accurate.
The bottom line: Trust is something you earn every day and can lose anytime. Little media has to work just as hard — no harder — at gaining trust than big media. And you know how hard big media has to work at it.
: UPDATE: Ken Layne doesn’t buy the huge decline in media trust.