Posted February 8, 2010 1:01 pm by with 5 comments

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Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer survey shows that traditional media is trending downward among “informed publics aged 25-64 in 20 countries”—and so is their trust in “a person like yourself” (although much less dramatically).

The executive summary shows traditional media trust is diving, with TV news down 20%, radio news down 17% and print news down 12%. However, digital media isn’t exactly making up the gap—radio and TV news coverage still slightly beat out online search engines (38%, 36% and 35%, respectively), and newspaper articles close behind (34%). Corporate communications (press releases, I guess) were also in the same tier—significantly ahead of social networking sites (19%), which only barely edged out product advertising (17%).

I have to wonder if it’s the signal to noise ratio or the sources of search engines’ information. After all, it seems like search engines will mostly send users to corporate websites—or blogs ranting about how terrible (or great) said company is. And neither of those seem totally credible.

Most trusted for information about a company were stock or industry analyst reports (49%) and articles in business magazines (44%). Conversations with employees also ranked high (41%).

Meanwhile, expert sources are gaining trust year over year, while “average Joes” have slipped slightly. Academics or experts were rated as the most credible again, gaining 2 percentage points to 64%. Financial and industry analysts gained 3 percentage points to 52%.

The rankings changed up from 2009 with the third and fourth most trusted sources: NGO reps gained 4 percentage points to 45%, edging out a “person like yourself,” which lost 3 percentage points and fell to 44%.

Oddly enough, apparently we haven’t learned anything over the last two years. Trust for CEOs gained 9 percentage points and trust for government officials gained six percentage points. (At 40% and 35%, respectively, they’re still not very widely trusted.)

Also strange: while 41% believed conversations with employees were “extremely” or “very” credible, only 32% rated regular employees as “extremely” or “very” credible sources of information about a company.

What do you think? What’s the most credible source for information about a company? What, if anything, can we do to ameliorate digital media’s credibility?


  • In my experience, most of the information that search engines provide about businesses is not very helpful. It usually consists of directory listings, financial industry profiles, and stuff like that. Most companies don’t have to contend with angry bloggers but I would say that search has failed the consumer because it relies too much on canned, spoon-fed information.
    .-= Michael Martinez´s last blog ..FBI Proposes Subjecting Web To Black Hat Tactics =-.

  • Well…nobody trust nobody anymore. Whether it’s TV or Facebook.
    .-= Kyle Morgan´s last blog ..Is The American Dream Attainable? Evidence From Recent Survey =-.

  • Interesting that a “person like yourself” dropped, while trust in CEOs rose. I wonder if transparency by CEOs–either forced or voluntary–is building trust in what they have to say.

    Of course, they need to prove they’re worthy of that trust, so we’ll see how they did, when this report comes out again next year. 😉

  • I think i’d agree largely with the findings – articles in business magazines and industry reports would hold a lot more weight with me rather than corporate advertising because the former is (more likely) to be from an unbiased point of view.
    The problem with digital media is that just about anyone with an internet connection can air their view on a subject, whether they’re an expert/professional or not.
    .-= Luci´s last blog ..Google Social Search – What does it mean for SEO? =-.

  • This has always been happening…. nobody trusts nobody lol
    .-= Mohamed Adam Jr´s last blog ..XanGo Training Tips That Will Increase Results In Your Team =-.