Australia has no trusted media source finds Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer

Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer report has revealed that no media source is trusted for news and information by Australians, with traditional media experiencing a 3% decline in trust from the previous year.

The barometer classifies media sources as ‘trusted’ when they score 60 points or higher based on the average of respondents rating them on a scale of how much they would trust them for news and information. Search engines also experienced a decline from last year, dropping one point, however owned media was up and social media had a nine point jump in the trust Australians hold in it as a news source.

Source: Edelman (Click to enlarge)

According to the research, Australians believe local news organisations are biased, with 68% agreeing that most news organisations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public and 64% saying journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations, even though there was an 11 point increase in trust in journalists this year.

Reflecting those attitudes, the annual report found that increasing media and information literacy had become a greater priority for Australians over the last year, as did being politically aware.

Despite this, only 22% of respondents were found to have good information hygiene, defined by their level of news engagement, verifying information, avoiding information echo chambers and not amplifying unvetted information. 50% of respondents said they share or forward news items they find interesting.

Source: Edelman (Click to enlarge)

The results of the Trust Barometer come just a day after Facebook removed news sharing from its platform and blocked the accounts of local and international news publishers in Australia, a move which has attracted criticism for enabling a greater spread of misinformation on social media.

Edelman’s Trust Barometer found that the distrust in news sources has led to a sense of hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who demonstrated poor ‘information hygiene’ showed less willingness to get a vaccine (67%), versus 73% of people with good information hygiene being willing.

Amid the pandemic, the data also revealed that the concerns of Australians shifted to personal issues such as job security and health, with societal concerns such as the climate crisis, economic inequality and education taking a lower priority.

The number one concern was job loss, with two thirds of respondents reporting their hours were reduced or eliminated last year due to the pandemic, and four in five concerned about losing their jobs. Over half were worried that the pandemic has accelerated the rate at which companies invest in AI and robotics to replace human staff.

Despite this 78% of Australians trust their employer over business more generally. Employers are one of the most trusted institutions, ranking the second most believed and trusted source of information after the government.

Source: Edelman (Click to enlarge)

Overall, the research showed that trust in Australian institutions was up, with the media industry up 12 points, business up 11, government up 17 and NGOs up 8, but with business and NGOs the only institutions deemed ethical.

“Having gained significant public trust over the past year, the challenge for Australian institutions now becomes how to build on this solid foundation. After a year of disruption, fear and uncertainty, the need for empathy and open communication is at an all-time high. Leadership among the business community will be critical to Australia’s recovery, and we will be looking to them to step into less familiar areas and lead a coalition for progress,” said Edelman Australia CEO and vice chair of Asia Pacific, Michelle Hutton.

“As we are quickly learning, 2021 by no means marks an end of the transformation and disruption brought on by 2020, and our shared success as a society will be vastly shaped by how institutions respond to the trust the public has placed in them. Really, it’s theirs to lose.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.