New in research: 2021 Edelman Global Trust Barometer now available

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that now more than ever, people are unsure where to turn to for trustworthy information.

Trust for news sources reached record lows, with only 35% trusting social media for information, and 53% trusting traditional media (a drop of 8 points). Similarly, respondents cited their employer / place of work as the most trusted source of information at 61%; this shift caused business trust to overtake national government (58%), traditional media (57%), and social media (39%).

Taking an even closer look at this decline in trust, government leaders, religious leaders, journalists, and CEOs all took a dive in level of trust, while ‘people in my local community’ and ‘my employer CEO’ were shown to have higher trust levels of 62% and 63%, respectively. Summed up, one of the key takeaways from 2021 is that people are more likely to trust what is local, especially now.

Other studies have also cited this shift, wherein at times, local community news is shown to be more trusted than daily newspaper brands. In a recent study by the Whitman Insight Strategies Initiative and Creative Circle Media Solutions, they explore how the pandemic has affected the feelings and emotions of local media consumers. The study revealed that consumers have a high level of trust for local community newspapers, exceeding daily news brands. The study also revealed that local news media provided consumers with a feeling of hope and comfort when they were feeling scared about the state of the pandemic, while also further connecting them to their community.

Another important shift noted in the Edelman 2021 report is that there was a 46% net increase in prioritizing media and information literacy. Why this still resulted in a decline in overall trust globally is an interesting development.

Taking a closer look at news media trust broken down by country, it was revealed that of the 27 countries surveyed, trust in media actually increased in 15 out of 17 countries. Canada was one of these countries, increasing to 54% (an increase in 1%). Overall, the level of trust is still considered ‘neutral’ compared to some other countries such as Indonesia at 72%. Findings from Totum Research in Canada also show a similar level of trust wherein 52% of Canadians trust ads in printed newspapers and 39% trust ads on news media websites. While this is not inordinately high, this level of trust surpasses all other media brands, such as radio, TV, magazines, and social media.

Right now, there is a lot that we do not know about the state of trust and distrust in a Canadian context. The Canadian Trust Barometer will be launched on February 17, 2021, giving us a deeper insight into the state of media trust, nationally.