More than two-thirds of the general public distrust the UK media in the wake of the Leveson Report, according to a survey.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 30 per cent of 1,000 members of the general public surveyed and 33 per cent of 200 the “informed public” trust the media. The informed public are defined as university educated, top 25 per cent earnings bracket individuals who are engaged in business news and public policy.
At a panel discussion to launch the report this morning, the Financial Times website’s managing editor Robert Shrimsley said that the media’s “shrillness” is partly to blame for the overall decline in trust in the UK.
“I find myself torn between being an advocate for cynicism, which I think actually has its place in society – I think it’s a good thing that people don’t entirely trust government and important figures and question their motives. I think we should be questioning people who hold substantial powers,” he said.
“Against that I’m also aware of the increasing level of shrillness, particularly in the media, as I do think that media has a part to blame in the way that we distrust.
"There’s nothing wrong with being untrusting about leaders but it’s the way that we do it. And the way we question motives…are frequently very bone-headed.”
He added: “The day after the Coalition was formed there was a debate on Newsnight or something like this and one of the journalists said, ‘well Nick Clegg thinks this and David Cameron thinks this – we’ve got a split already’. We haven’t got a split we’ve got a Coalition.
“You see this across the media and it covers politics and it covers business. There is a very shrill take on it. And somehow you can be just as cynical and questioning while being a bit more cool-headed and using facts.”
On how to improve trust in the media, which, according to Edelman, has seen a global increase over the past year, he suggested the media should be more careful to report the truth, stop engaging in “reprehensible” practices and start “serving readers with a diet of information that is actually useful to them”.
Also on the panel discussing the results was Lord Strathclyde, former leader of the House of Lords, who suggested there should be more personal responsibility in media organisations.
On the recommendations of the Leveson Report, he said: “The answer is not to legislate. It won’t work. It has to come from within.”
The survey asked members of the public to rate various institutions on a nine-point scale of trust via an online interview.