The challenge is to get the trust of our listeners. According to a survey in 2018, journalists are (along with estate agents, advertising executives and politicians) amongst the least trusted professions. Technical details of the survey can be found at the bottom of this link. I’m not quite sure how I feel about being lumped in with this lot.
The same survey – comparing last year’s results – also suggests the UK public’s trust in TV newsreaders has fallen by five percent in 2018. Those of us who are employed in broadcasting have work to do here. But then so do the politicians and the people who sell our houses for us…
Since 1983 this group of pollsters have been taking the pulse of Britain when it comes to who we can trust. Such research work sheds light on the growing culture wars being played out in the UK media, with talk of fake news, the problems with the main-stream media, conspiracy theories, and an overall weariness of incessant bad news, scandal and negative stories. At the same time, the data presented in this survey suggest that there are significant pockets of trust – they just don’t happen to be in professions in what sociologists call ‘the public sphere’, where issues of our time get discussed and agreed or disagreed upon. Quite correctly the report’s authors say the survey cannot be reduced to a single headline, and that trust is a complex matter.
The survey was published in November 2018. It should be interesting – after another twelve months of politics and the reporting of events in and out of Westminster and Brussels – to see what changes, if any, happen to this league table.
Nurses, doctors, teacher and engineers are, apparently, the most trusted professions, according to this survey. So when you’re recovering in hospital after surgery and your civil engineer friend visits your bedside to talk (at length) about ratchet spanners you know you’re in a good environment all round – and you’re likely to feel that you’re being told the truth by all of them.
The bad news is that estate agents, journalists, politicians and advertising executives are still the most mis-trusted professions. I know a newspaper colleague who is married to an estate agent. He jokes about how special his household is.
In one episode of the Simpsons, Bart enters a radio contest and wins an elephant. When the DJs initially refuse to honour their joke prize the boss says they’ll either give Bart an elephant or they’ll lose their jobs to a computer. It’s closer to the truth than perhaps we’d like to admit. As broadcasters we’re trusted to keep our word. Even if that involves an elephant as a prize….