Trust in journalists plummets - but estate agents come last in new survey

Public trust in journalists has dipped sharply in the last five years, according to a new survey released by the British Journalism Review.

The annual trust survey, carried out by YouGov, shows sharp declines in trust of broadcast journalists in particular – perhaps reflecting the recent series of scandals over the rigging of reader competitions at broadcasters in recent months.

But local press journalists and upmarket national newspaper journalists also suffer in the new poll – perhaps reflecting recent journalism scandals such as the fiasco at Express Newspapers over the reporting of allegations surrounding the parents of Madeleine McCann and the News of the World royal bugging scandal.

There was however one slender piece of good news in the survey for journalists.

Whereas in 2003 redtop journalists were the least trusted people in public life – in the latest survey estate agents had dropped six percentage points giving them the wooden spoon.

Writing in the British journalism review, journalism academic Steven Barnett said: “Good journalism makes a difference to the kind of society we live in, and to distrust it is eventually to destroy it. That’s why trust matters, and that’s why we should all be worried by the findings of this survey.”

Survey findings (online survey of 1,328 adults carried out at the end of March, 2008)

How much do you trust the following to tell the truth?

Figures show percentage saying a “great deal” or a “fair amount” (change over the last five years in brackets)

  • Family doctors: 87 per sent (down six per cent)
  • Schoolteachers: 76 per cent (down 12 per cent)
  • Local beat policemen: 71 per cent (down 11 per cent)
  • Headteachers in state schools: 71 per cent (down 8 per cent)
  • BBC news journalists: 61 per cent (down 20 per cent)
  • Judges: 61 per cent (down 7 per cent)
  • Senior police officers: 57 per cent (down 15 per cent)
  • ITV news journalists: 51 per cent (down 31 per cent)
  • Channel 4 news journalists: 51 per cent (down 29 per cent)
  • Journalists on upmarket papers: 43 per cent (down 22 per cent)
  • Journalists on local papers: 40 per cent (down 20 per cent)
  • My local MP: 39 per cent (down 5 per cent)
  • Trade union leaders: 31 per cent (down one per cent)
  • Leading Lib Dem politicians: 29 per cent (down seven per cent)
  • Leading Conservative politicians: 27 per cent (down 7 per cent)
  • Managers of NHS hospitals 24 per cent (down 12 per cent)
  • People who run large companies: 24 per cent (up four per cent)
  • Senior officials in my local council: 20 per cent (down 9 per cent)
  • Senior Whitehall civil servants: 19 per cent (down seven per cent)
  • Journalists on midmarket papers: 18 per cent (down 18 per cent)
  • Journalists on redtop papers: 15 per cent (up one per cent)
  • Estate agents: 10 per cent (down six per cent)

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