Friday 16 September 2011

Hackgate: Trust in newspaper journalists plunges

Trust in national newspaper journalists – both broadsheet and tabloid – is down by around a quarter, according to a poll conducted by Nottingham University to measure the impact of the phone-hacking scandal on the public.

The poll shows that while trust in all journalists has nose dived, politicians have made a remarkable recovery.

In November 2010, YouGov conducted an online survey, which probed public trust in various groups of professionals, covering the media, politicians, and senior police officers.

The University of Nottingham repeated this survey over the weekend of the July 15, 2011, by which time the full implications of the phone hacking scandal had become apparent. It says: "By comparing the two surveys we think we can identify the impact of ‘hackgate’ on trust."

In a commentary on the results, the University says the fall in trust for journalists can most easily be observed for broadsheet journalists, which was gauged by asking about trust in '"journalists in newspapers such as the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian".

The University says: "The percentage of the public who expressed trust in them fell by 13 points: this, despite the fact that the scandal primarily focused on tabloid journalists and was actually broken by a broadsheet.

"The public, however, do not appear to have made this distinction. Trust in tabloid journalists (asked by referring to 'journalist in newspapers such as the Sun, the Mirror or the Daily Star') has similarly fallen by around a quarter, although as this is from a much – much – lower starting point the absolute change is relatively small."

Senior police officers have also suffered a loss of trust there has been a remarkable resurgence in trust for politicians. Trust in MPs in general saw a 7 point increase.

The University says: "Whatever the partisan effect of the scandal, the political class as a whole appears to have benefited from it.

"From these data it is obvious that the public has not only taken notice of the scandal, it has also reacted strongly in terms of who they now do – and do not – trust. In particular, it seems likely that the role of individual Parliamentarians in exposing phone hacking and the Parliamentary select committees anticipated scrutiny of Rupert Murdoch, his son James and former executive News International executive Rebekah Brooks probably played some part in improving perceptions of politicians."

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