Who do we trust and distrust?

Lack of trust – indeed active distrust – of Scott Morrison was a major factor in his electoral defeat. Indeed, eight of the top ten most distrusted politicians in Australia were all LNP MPs and/or Ministers according to the Roy Morgan Research regular Trust and Distrust survey in research before the last election.

Feedback from focus groups also demonstrated that Morrison was a dead man walking and the two main factors participants mentioned were lying and attitudes to women.

But politicians are not alone in the distrust stakes as the latest Roy Morgan Trust and Distrust survey demonstrates.

For instance, the most distrusted media brand is NewsCorp with virtually no trust and massive distrust. News Corp is followed, in order, by Google, Fox News, Sky News, Fairfax Media, Foxtel, Nine, 7 and You Tube.

The News distrust levels are fascinating in the context of the company’s branding statement: “From breaking news in the morning to deciding dinner that night Australians trust our brands to inform, inspire and delight across the day.”  The contrast suggests some branding person – and their client – were suffering delusions.

And for the most trusted media brand the ABC is still on top although its net trust (trust minus distrust) has declined in recent years.  The ABC is followed in order by Netflix, SBS, The Guardian, The Age and the SMH. The anti-ABC campaigns by Morrison, Murdoch et al are obviously having an impact but not enough to topple the ABC from its preeminent position.

If the difference between the findings of the corporate brand – Nine – and the mastheads seems odd it is probably just a function of respondents having more recognition of the newspaper they read rather than the parent company.

To the public the media in general is seen as a spreader of disinformation and misinformation, divisive statements, defamatory material, cruel and unacceptable material – all without fear of consequences or accountability.  It is thought to lack integrity and is seen as dishonest, lacking integrity and propagators of fake news.

There is also massive distrust of social media with the industry being the most distrusted industry in the country with extremely low trust and significant distrust levels. Indeed, 75% of respondents say social media creates more problems than it solves.

As for the non-media corporate sector the most distrusted brands are, in order, Facebook/Meta, Telstra, Amazon, News Corp, Google, Harvey Norman, AMP, Rio, Nestle and Westpac. Rio and Nestle distrust levels have increased since the last survey and Westpac is now less distrusted than it was.

Cynicism, alienation and distrust are now rampant in our society when it comes to the media and many companies. But then, on the track record of both, it is hardly surprising.

You can get the full results from the Roy Morgan Research webinar here.