Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Trust in News Media and Trust In Parliament: Latest Research Reveals A Strong Correlation

The latest Pew Research study of European trust in news media contains some good news and some bad news. It also demonstrates very clearly a strong correlation between trust in news media and trust in parliament.

On the positive side the overwhelming majority of people believe that news media is important. In countries such as Sweden and Germany over 60% believe it is very important. This is encouraging given the role of the media in liberal democracies, and particularly in political communication such as informing and educating citizens, and providing a platform for public political discourse.

In countries such as Germany and Sweden over 60% of people also trust the news media. However, in France, the UK, Spain and Italy there are very low levels of trust in the news media. Less than a third of people trust the news media in the UK, Spain and Italy. 

More worrying for liberal democracy in these countries is a corresponding lack of trust in Parliament. In countries such as Italy and Spain trust in Parliament is even lower than trust in news media. Less than one in five people trust their parliament.

What is particularly interesting is the very strong correlation between trust in news media and trust in parliament. The correlation is 0.936 and can be seen in the scatter plot below.

Correlation is not causation but there is clearly a strong relationship between trusting your news media and your parliament. Does a trusted news media help create trust in parliament and if so, what will be the implications of an increasingly fragmented and less trusted news media?