The proportion of Britons who say they trust journalists has increased over the last year and nearly doubled since 2000, according to an annual Ipsos study.
Journalists still rank among the least trusted professions in the UK but they are ahead of politicians, estate agents and advertising executives.
Those were the findings from the 2022 Veracity Index, a long-standing study by Ipsos which has measured the level of the UK public’s trust in various professions since 1983.
Some 29% of the more than 1,000 UK adults polled said they trusted journalists to tell the truth, making them the fifth-least trusted profession in the UK. It is the highest trust score for journalists ever seen in the survey.
This was a sharp improvement on 2020 when 23% of people said that they trusted journalists, and on 1983 when the number was 19%.
Among the population, there were differences in who was more or less likely to trust reporters. Respondents from Gen Z (people currently aged 16 to 26) were most likely to say they did not trust journalists (60%), followed by millennials (aged 27 to 41) of whom 59% said they did not trust journalists.
Among baby boomers (those aged 58-76), levels of distrust were slightly lower at 56%.
There were also differences by education level and socio-economic class. Thirty-seven percent of people with a degree said they trusted journalists compared to just 24% of people educated to GCSE or O-level.
Meanwhile 35% of people considered by the Office of National Statistics to be in the AB socio-economic bracket (which translates roughly to upper-middle or middle-middle class status) said they trusted journalists.
This fell to 25% among people considered to be working class or unemployed (DE according to the same ONS classification).
This year’s Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) similarly highlighted the public’s lack of faith in the media, with just over a third (34%) of people saying they trusted UK news. However, in that poll it was down from 51% in 2015.
The Ipsos survey also asked people what they thought of television newsreaders specifically, finding this was one of the professions in which the public had seen the greatest boom in trust in the past year. Fifty-eight percent of people answered that they trusted TV newsreaders to tell the truth, a six percentage point jump on 2021.
Baby boomers were the most likely to trust TV newsreaders (68%), with millennials the least (49%).
The rise in trust in TV newsreaders was all the more remarkable because of the general dip in public trust across the board revealed by this year’s poll, said Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos Trends & Foresight.
“This year we have seen public trust drop gently across a wide range of professions,” he said. “The biggest drop is in trust in politicians, which has fallen to levels last seen during the 2009 expenses crisis. However we have also seen small but noticeable falls for high-trust professions including doctors, nurses, teachers and curators, as well as trust in the average person in the street.
“This makes the professions where we have seen an increase in trust this year – TV newsreaders, trade union officials and engineers – all the more noteworthy.”
Since 2020, Ipsos has interviewed a representative quota sample of more than 1,000 Brits aged 16+ via telephone. Interviews for this year’s index were carried out in October and November 2022. Prior to 2020, interviews were conducted face-to-face.
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