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Trust in media rises, but drops for government

The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer took a look at trust levels around the globe. Trust in media is increasing.
The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer took a look at trust levels around the globe. Trust in media is increasing.

As hard as it may be to believe, trust in the media is on the rise.

The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer takes an annual look at trust levels around the globe in institutions such as governments, NGOs, the media and business. About 30,000 people are surveyed in 25 countries by the global PR firm Edelman and asked questions about who they trusted.

One finding from the survey is while 5 percent of people only need to hear something once to believe it; 63 percent of people need to hear something three to five times before they believe it.

And, just to test that proposition, the survey also found that trust in the media is on the rise.

Government has seen a decline in trust — dropping from a 52 percent trust level among "informed public" in 2011, to 43 percent in 2012. Business trust also fell from 56 percent to 53 percent. NGOs lost trust as well, dropping from 61 percent to 58 percent.

Media, however, rose in trust levels from 49 percent to 52 percent.

The countries where people are the most trustful and skeptics few are China, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the Netherlands. The countries with more "distrusters" are Russia, Japan, Spain, Germany, France and Ireland. The U.S. also falls in the distruster category.

Several countries took a nosedive in trust since 2011 — Brazil dropping from the most trustful to just barely above the distrustful level. Japan also dropped significantly from neutral to the second most distrustful country.

But technology companies are still doing well with 79 percent of people trusting them. Banks dropped 16 percent to a 40 percent trust level.

Trust in media, in addition to rising worldwide, had even more dramatic gains in the U.S., rising from 27 percent trust levels among informed public in 2011 to 45 percent in 2012. Sadly, trust in the media dropped significantly in Argentina, UAE, Brazil and Japan.

But, when it comes to media, which media are people trusting the most?

Traditional media outlets are trusted by 32 percent of the informed public. Online sources a little less so at 26 percent. Corporate media, at 16 percent, does better than social media. Apparently only 14 percent of people trust news they hear on Facebook and similar social media.

But even with a low amount of trust in social media, that trust jumped 75 percent over the year before when it had a measly 8 percent of the public's trust.

The Huffington Post talked about criticisms of Facebook and Twitter in the context of trust — and how their allowing some censorship in selected countries (such as China and India) hurts their credibility. "Twitter and Facebook may find themselves, indirectly or not, assisting the Chinese Communist Party detaining users," Huffington Post reported.

Non-governmental organizations are still the most trusted institutions across the globe — particularly in Mexico and China where they get a 78 percent and 79 percent trust rating respectively.

The drop in trust, when it comes to business and government, seems to move in synch with how well the economy is doing. Trust in CEOs dropped 12 points in 2012 while trust in "a person like yourself" jumped 22 percent. Last year "regular employees" were at the bottom of the spokespeople trust scale. Now they are 16 points above CEOs, government officials, financial analysts and NGO representatives.

Gallup's Sept. 2011 poll found the percentage of Americans who trust government in Washington "just about always" or "most of the time" fell from 60 percent in 2001 to 19 percent.

Ironically, as lack of trust in government has fallen, the percentage of people who think government does not regulate business enough has climbed. Forty percent in the U.S. want more regulation. And 77 percent of people in China think government should do more to control business.

And, if the survey is correct, about 63 percent of people who have read this story will now believe trust in the media rose in 2012.

This article uses aggregated content from Edelman,, and Gallup