Populus has released some very interesting stats today on the
trustworthiness of our news outlets. The Sun is apparently the
least well-trusted newspaper, with just 9% of the population
stating that they trust the outlet 'completely or somewhat'.
Whilst we should bear in mind that a hefty chunk of people may
have ticked 'neither trust nor distrust', there were a few
surprises: both the Telegraph and the Guardian only achieved a 39%
trust rating, and the FT - confident intellectual heavyweight that
it is - still scored less than half (48%).
Trust is interesting, but I don't think it's a binary
distinction, nor should we think about this in really simplistic
terms - it's also important to think about factors such as quality.
After all, I trust the BBC's reporting, but the reporters have such
a broad remit, from 3D games
processors, from 4G to Facebook
stock to security,
they can't possibly have in-depth knowledge about all these topics
or their heads would explode. So, I trust the BBC for the top line
and would look to more niche, geeky sites for more detailed
scrutiny. I'd say that whilst the FT is trustworthy, the reporting
can be dense and inaccessible to the man on the street, which could
lead to distrust.
I was also a bit puzzled by the implication on Populus that
trust is equivalent to morality. After all, people might not trust
the Guardian or the Telegraph because they know they have a left /
right-wing slant to their reporting. I don't think this is immoral;
they're entitled to their views and I think these views are
well-known. Similarly, the now defunct News of the World may have
used sources who gained information via phone hacking, which was
clearly immoral, but the information may have been wholly
I'm not disagreeing with the Populus piece, but I do think that
trust, quality and morality are all tied up in a more complex web
than a simple 'I trust / don't trust this newspaper'
But I suppose this doesn't make for quick, digestible news.