TOKYO: Ongoing attacks on the media and international political chaos are taking their toll on public trust in institutions, but the annual Edelman Trust Barometer survey also reports people are becoming more discerning in where they get their news.

The survey, which interviews around 33,000 people each year across 28 international markets, found that public trust in media has plummeted in the last two years; it is now the least trusted institution of the four that Edelman covers (the others being government, business and NGOs) and is more distrusted than trusted in 22 countries.

Seven out of ten people surveyed across all markets said they are concerned about fake news, Stephen Kehoe, Global Head of Reputation at Edelman, told the Advertising Week Asia event in Tokyo recently. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Fake news, anti-media rhetoric takes its toll in 2018.)

But he added that people are becoming more discerning about the different channels where they get their news – making a distinction between social media, search platforms, and the traditional role of journalism and online-only websites.

“Over the last year, we started to see a real increase in trusting journalism and a decrease in the trust in platforms,” he reported. “It’s a seven-point gap and it’s now starting to open.”

That’s not the case across the board, however, as trust in platforms actually increased in seven of the 28 countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and China, all of which have a highly censored media environment, and where platforms can offer an alternative channel for political discussion.

Burt the existence of such channels can create new problems. In some of Asia’s emerging markets – such as Myanmar, India or the Philippines – a low level of media literacy combined with the availability of social media and messaging apps has created a huge fake news problem.

Generally, however, Kehoe noted that people are starting to become more skeptical, asking who they can believe. “What information is out there that’s truthful? Who’s got agendas?”

Alongside that is a rise in trust for reporters and journalists. “Journalists are still very near the bottom when it comes to looking at what kind of spokespeople and individuals do we trust – but it’s up 12 points globally over the last year,” he said.

Sourced from WARC