IT’S called a ‘trust deficit’. We trust people less than we used to. Only 24% of you lot trust me for starters. You trust bankers and estate agents more than you trust me, for heaven’s sake. But as a consolation prize, you trust politicians even less than you trust me.
It’s not about me in truth. This trust business is general, but it is easy to take these things personally; easy and a way into writing a piece.
Journalists are often looking for a way in. A way into a story. A way into your front door if you are foolish enough to admit them.
If journalists come second bottom only to the Boris brigade in terms of trust, nurses are top. These are the findings of the annual Ipsos Mori ‘veracity index’ which has been running since 1983 and each year assesses “which roles are most trusted by the public”, reported last weekend’s Observer.
I choose to trust the Observer. The newspaper was 225 years old on Sunday and held inky celebrations to mark the occasion. I worked there for three of those many years, but only on a Saturday. They seem to have overlooked my mighty contribution, but I am big enough to take that.
These polls are interesting and infuriating in the same breath. For instance, television newsreaders are trusted by 67% of you lot. How inconsistent, as newsreaders are journalists who are filmed while they get to stay in the office. This poll suggests they are trusted more than the reporters whose items they introduce, which seems inconsistent. And more than a little unfair as it is the reporters who go out and do the proper work.
A survey can only reveal so much. For instance, are we talking about newspaper or television journalists? Which newspapers do they work for? I reckon it’s not journalists people distrust so much as newspapers, or some newspapers, but journalists and newspapers do go hand in hand.
Just to complicate matters, journalists don’t always trust the newspapers they work for.
Another slant on this is that people don’t trust journalists but they do buy newspapers, or read what journalists have written on websites (and generally without paying for the privilege).
Life never stands still, to pull a convenient phrase from the cliché draw, and it is noticeable that some people are turning against newspapers. There is a lot of noise in some quarters about the Daily Mail – a successful newspaper, if not often a pleasant read.
Social media shit-storms are always being stirred up against the Mail or the Sun. Those orchestrating the internet polls seem to believe that views other than their own should not be tolerated, which is worrying.
I dislike the Mail a lot and don’t often read the Sun, but still feel the world is better for their presence. It’s all part of the mix and you don’t have to buy them.
There is something missing from this poll, with its post-truth findings and suspicion of experts – as famously voiced by Michael Gove, who having failed in his ludicrous bid to be Tory leader, scuttled back to journalism and turned himself back into one of those experts he professed to despise.
What’s missing is this: nobody ever asks if people trust pollsters. Seeing as the polls constantly fail to predict almost anything you might care to think of, this is a pertinent gap.
And what about the politicians at the bottom of the table? Distrusting politicians comes naturally to many people, sometimes for sound reasons and sometimes for unfair reasons. But I shall tell you this for nothing: distrust of politicians lies behind the rise to the US Presidency of surely the most untrustworthy candidate in the history of American politics. Sometimes we should be careful about who we fail to trust.