Edelman Trust Index reports increased media engagement, driven in part by Married At First Sight

Australians became slightly more trusting, far more engaged and slightly more pessimistic in 2018, the Edelman Trust Barometer has found.

The number of Australians consuming and sharing media jumped 26 percentage points on the back of a year of political unrest and uncertainty about the future. Steven Spurr, CEO of Edelman Australia, suggested Married At First Sight may also be a driving the increased engagement.

Edelman’s Steven Spurr said Married At First Sight helped drive Australian’s media engagement in 2018

“That’s been driven by four things altogether,” Spurr told Mumbrella when asked about the increased engagement.

“Number one driver was the federal political soap opera. Global news on Brexit, Trump, world affairs and China have topped in at number two. Number three was reporting around the royal commission.

“The fourth one was the dramas on Married At First Sight.”

In the survey, Edelman found Australians are more trusting than last year with trust overall up eight points from last year to 48 points, still slightly lower than the global average of 52 points.

Edelman reports a massive rise in news engagement [Click to enlarge]

“Only 32% of everyday Australians think they will be better off in five years time,” said Spurr. “That’s not a great view point for the future if more than two thirds of us don’t. We’re in an interesting moment where we’re more trusting than last year and the year before but we’re worried about the future.”

Australia’s trust in media, particularly traditional channels, increased nine points in the last year to 40 points, while government jumped seven points in the last year to 42 points. However both sectors still sit firmly in distrusted territory.

Australians however seem to be putting more trust in business with 52% looking favourable on the commercial sector, despite the fallout from the banking royal commission, something Spurr puts down to greater corporate activism.

“It’s not that we’ve started trusting the banks – trust in the finance sector went down – it just went up in everything else,” added Spurr. “I think we have a real belief as we have looked at five years of Federal government that has possibly not achieved as much as the population would have hoped, that now we’re starting to look to business to be the agents of change.

“I think the campaign for marriage equality two years ago, the push on drought relief, the push on removing plastics from the system that have predominately come from business is reminding the population that businesses are the agents for change and they are getting a slight bump in trust because of that behaviour.”

Of Australians’ sources of media, traditional media remained the most trusted source of information with a 61 points trust rating, still below the global average.

Australia also remains the least trusting country globally of social media, with the 36 point rating revealing only half as many people trust the social media services as they do traditional media.

Edelman also found Australians’ trust in search engines had increased 10 points, to 57 points, while trust in owned media jumped nine points, to 35 points.


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