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Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - December 2021

Analysis: Let's fix the problem around trust in the media

I recently read the latest report from Reuters Institute about 'trust', and like the other reports they have made, it's excellent. Reuters Institute is doing such a good job studying the media industry.

However, every time I read a report about trust in the media, there are a number of things that become immediately apparent. I'm not talking about the reports themselves. I'm talking about how we in the media talk about trust.

So in this 34-page Plus report, I'm going to give you my analysis of the trust problem, and my solution, based not only on what I have learned over the past 10 years being a media analyst, but also what I know about trust working outside the media industry.

Because ...well... to put it simply, the way we talk about trust is weird. Trust is not what people in the media think it is.

Three problems emerge

Whenever I see a report about trust, there are three problems that emerge.

The first problem is that many publishers see trust as an externalized factor. That somehow trust is about Facebook, politicians, or fake news, or hundreds of other externalized factors that, if they would just go away, we would be trusted ... again.

But this is not what trust is about at all (and I will get to why later in this article).

This, however, then links to the second problem, which is that many publishers also believe that they should be trusted by default simply because they are "the news". In other words, we are still seeing an incredibly high level of institutional entitlement. That, because we are the press, we are somehow entitled to be trusted without question or scrutiny (no matter whether that is fair or not).

Again, this is not what trust is. Nothing in society works that way. No industry, and no profession lives in a world where trust is given by default.

 
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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé

 

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