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Why the public have lost trust in journalists

Honest journalism is the basis of an informed democratic society. However, the widespread arrival of fake news and other disinformation on social media has caused the recent surge in public mistrust. But there are other factors in play:

  • Propaganda has always undermined trust in the media.  Using false or misleading information to influence public opinion is not new. It has a long history usually manufactured by a government or a powerful political interest group.
  • Another long-standing concern is the proprietorial ownership of many UK newspapers.  Critics argue that the old-fashioned media barons, who have a personal interest in influencing Government policy, wield far too much power.
  • The celebrity-driven world has allowed sensationalism and entertainment to dominate journalists’ reporting at the expense of accuracy.
  • The phone hacking scandal, which emerged in 2005, seriously damaged trust in tabloid journalism.  Employees of the News of the World newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, engaged in phone hacking, police bribery, and using improper influence in the pursuit of stories.  As a result, this led to the closure of the News of the World in 2011.
  • As social media become increasingly entwined among primary sources of news, news becomes infected with more and more misinformation and disinformation, both intentionally and accidentally.
  • Newspaper advertisers have been migrating to cheaper and more targeted online ads on the Internet. Thus, advertising revenues throughout all mainstream journalism are in steep decline.  Newspapers and broadcasters are losing their audiences to social media.
  • This serious loss of funding has led to the downsizing of newsroom staff nationwide, with local newspapers hardest hit. Surviving journalists, working under excess pressure, are struggling to do more with less.  This puts journalists under pressure to cut corners.
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