A return to hypocrisy. Last week, I wrote a post about what I called “the hypocrisy of political commentary”. My argument was that journalists, like myself, often see inadequacies in our politicians whilst ignoring the same inadequacies in their own profession and in themselves. But they’re all there, for those who care to look: privilege, inexperience, an occasional indifference to the truth, and so on.
A crisis of credibility… And here’s another for the list: a lack of credibility. The above graph, constructed with data from the Eurobarometer, shows how much trust the British public places in different media. According to the latest results, from last November, the humble old wireless comes out on top – 50 per cent of people tend to trust what they hear on the radio. Then it’s television, on 48 per cent. Then the Internet, on 26 per cent. Whereas the written press, my own trade and a trade I love, can only manage 22 per cent.
…that’s the worst in the EU… Were it not for the recent inclusion of “online social media” in Eurobarometer’s surveys, the written press would be dragging along the bottom – although that’s hardly a consolation. After all, there’s a fair bit of overlap between the two nowadays, with social media so often the platform and the story. And besides, even ignoring the social media, the press’s 22 per cent rating in Britain is, as I pointed out in my post last week, the lowest in all the European Union. The EU average is 43 per cent.
…and worse than the EU. That 22 per cent rating is low in other ways too. When I last looked at the Eurobarometer for To The Point, it was to compare the British public’s trust in our Parliament and Government with their trust in the EU. Yet all of those institutions manage to score better than the press. 34 per cent of Brits tend to trust Parliament. 31 per cent trust the Government. And 23 per cent the EU.
The problem of consistency.The data across time could be even more damning. With Parliament, the line reached a high of 41 per cent in 2007, before it declined to 17 per cent after the expenses scandal, from where it has since recovered to its current 35 per cent. Whereas, with the press, it has stuck pretty close to the 20 per cent mark for the past decade, with not even the phone hacking revelations budging it much either way. Which brings us to a sad fact: the British public’s trust in newspapermen is consistently low.