On the road to self-destruction

Steven Barnett: On the road to self-destruction, British Journalism Review, Vol. 19, No. 2, 5-13 (2008): "Professor Steven Barnett reports that a new BJR survey shows public confidence in journalism is still falling. "What ought to worry all journalists is the massive slide in trust, relative to other organisations or groups, since this question was first asked five years ago", he writes. The poll reveals that print journalism's performance is not quite as bad as the commercial broadcasters' but is on a par with the BBC. The trust figures for broadsheet journalists have declined 22 per cent over five years; those for local journalists are down 20 per cent and those for the mid-market titles down 18 per cent. This last group is the biggest loser in terms of the relative decline: while five years ago journalists on the mid-market titles were being ranked just below the middle of the table, their trust rating now languishes just above their red-top colleagues. The decline in trust extends beyond journalism to virtually every group in the list shown to those taking part in the survey, in particular public sector occupations such as police, teachers and NHS managers. Journalism's decline cannot, therefore, be seen in isolation from a more widespread phenomenon of declining faith. For an occupation that is supposed to deal in truth, however, and for which accuracy lies at the heart of the various codes of professional conduct, the scale and speed of the decline in trust is a serious issue."


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