Newspaper opinion polls can be a little like Chinese takeaways: they feel like a good idea to fill a hole at the time, but often end up being less substantial than you first thought.
If that is the case, the egg fried rice of poll questions is the one that asks members of the public how trustworthy, or otherwise, they find certain professions. Most of us have tasted this dish enough times to know instinctively that we usually have to look at the bottom of the table to find – surprise, surprise – that journalists score marginally better than politicians and marginally worse than estate agents. Yawn. Pass the prawn crackers.
The YouGov polls conducted this month and last month added a few more ingredients to the old favourite dish. It divided the journalists up into different types with interesting results.
TV journalists find themselves in the rarefied heights of having a net trust value of above 60 per cent, putting them up there with head teachers and above people who run charities. Broadsheet newspaper journalists fare pretty well too – happily enough for The Daily Telegraph, which sponsored the poll. Their score of 31 per cent gives them the edge over local newspaper journalists (22 per cent), and well ahead of senior United Nations officials.
Further down the list, in the red zone, we find mid-market newspaper journalists with a score of minus 26 per cent. And right at the bottom, below even estate agents, lie the red-tops, whose journalists have a net trust rating of minus 69 per cent.
So what are we to make of these numbers? How is it that certain newspapers can apparently be held in such low esteem by the nearly 10 million people who buy them every day?
For one answer we must turn, of course, to Coronation Street. Where else? The soap’s recent major storyline showed a sleazy pack of dishevelled hacks behaving utterly disgracefully, shattering the editor’s code of practice at every opportunity.
(Interestingly, Granada did contact the Press Complaints Commission at script-writing stage but opted to ignore its advice as to how real journalists would behave in favour of a more, ahem, dramatic portrayal.) Such stereotyping – at least 15 years out of date- was lapped up by nearly 20 million viewers.
Let us pray that Gerald Kaufman and his fellow members of the select committee looking at media intrusion don’t spend their evenings watching Corrie with a Chinese takeaway.