The global survey of over 33,000 people in 27 countries not only found tech to be the most trusted industry with a 78% score, but that trust levels were increasing, showing a 4% rise over five years.
The survey also revealed a general sense of pessimism about the future, particularly job losses, with a significant majority believing that innovation was happening at too fast a pace.
Only 20% of people surveyed said they believed the economic, political and social system was working for them, and almost 60% believed conflicts over trade were threatening their jobs.
The sense of pessimism about the future is highest in developed countries. Japan leads the way, with 84% of the general public believing they will be no better off in five years’ time, followed by France (79%), Germany (74%) and the UK (72%). The US was more optimistic with almost half the general public believing things would be better.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in such an uncertain world, people are increasingly turning to traditional media to find credible information; and there was a record gulf between the high level of trust in traditional news sources, and the distrust in social media, which continues to lose credibility as a source of information following the various privacy scandals of the past year.
The survey showed a huge spike in news consumption and sharing of 22 percentage points, up to 72%, which was partly attributed to the rise in traffic to news sites, driven by populist figures such as President Trump.
Concerns about false information or "fake news" were widespread, with 70% of respondents saying they were worried about fake news being used as a weapon.
The survey clearly demonstrates both an opportunity and challenge for traditional media: the need to balance credibility with reach.
Research by the Published Audience Measurement Company (Pamco) last year showed that in the UK, those newsbrands with the most reach – The Sun and the Daily Mail – were also the least trusted by readers. In a world where so many free news sources are available, quality journalism comes at a price – and one that has put traditional newspaper business models under threat.
But there are signs of change. A campaign for the New York Times that positioned the title as a truthful source of news generated a 10.7% lift in purchase intent and a 100% increase in subscriptions.
Sourced from Edelman; additional content by WARC staff