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TV & Radio

Dec 18, 2013

Trust in media: ABC still leads, Telegraph takes a hit

Few media have fared well in voters' trust in 2013, but some outlets have fared much worse than others. News Corp's The Daily Telegraph remains Australia's least-trusted news outlet.

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We’re even more cynical about the media than we were 12 months ago. And The Daily Telegraph has extended its “lead” as Australia’s least-trusted major newspaper.

New polling from Essential Research shows Australia’s most trusted media outlet remains ABC television news and current affairs: 70% of voters have some or a lot of trust in it, including 21% who say they have “a lot of trust”. But that’s down three points from January of this year. SBS television news and current affairs is also trusted, with 65% of voters having some or a lot of trust. ABC radio news and current affairs scored 63% for some or a lot of trust, but that’s down seven points since January.

Daily newspapers remained stable, with 48% of respondents professing some or a lot of trust, albeit with only 4% saying they had a lot of trust. Commercial TV news and current affairs, however, lost three points to fall to 41%; commercial radio news and current affairs fell from 46% to 38%; commercial radio talkback is trusted by just 31% of voters, about the same level of trust as in January (32%); and ABC radio talkback is trusted by 46%, down three points. Some 24% of people say they have “no trust at all” in commercial talkback radio, the same number as have no trust at all in blogs.

The trust of readers in individual newspaper mastheads has also generally fallen. The Age is Australia’s most trusted newspaper, with 68% of Victorian voters having some or a lot of trust in what they read in it, but it has fallen three points this year. The Sydney Morning Herald has fallen seven points to 64%, placing it on the same level as The Australian, which is pretty much stable. The Courier-Mail has picked up two points to 59% of its readers who trust what they read, while the Herald Sun has lost two points, with 48% reporting some or a lot of trust in the paper.

And, yet again, The Daily Telegraph is Australia’s least trusted major newspaper. Only 48% of its readers had some or a lot of trust in it in January; now just 41% of readers have trust in the Telegraph, while 25% of readers have no trust at all in what they read in it, a figure rivalled only by the Herald Sun, for which 22% of its readers have no trust at all.

The collapse in trust in the Telegraph, which continues to run an aggressively pro-Coalition line months after the election campaign finished, follows a collapse in its sales: in 2013 sales fell by over 11% for its weekday edition, the same level as its Sunday edition and the biggest fall of any News Corp title, although not as big as the falls suffered by Fairfax’s metro titles.

The results suggest News Corp is on a difficult mission to convince consumers to join its war against the ABC, an organisation that, along with SBS, remains far more trusted for its news and current affairs content than News Corp outlets and newspapers generally.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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16 thoughts on “Trust in media: ABC still leads, Telegraph takes a hit

  1. Brendan Jones

    Trouble is people can only judge “trust” by what they read.

    They can’t judge it by what is held back from them.

    Michael Pascoe has written about how newspapers hold back news if a rival publication covers it. e.g.

    For example regarding the Kessing case: AR@Crikey said that “never once did the SMH mention the Kessing case though stable mates did, the honourable exceptions being the Age & Canberra Times. When asked “why” by two of their star columnists at the time, the editor (some non entity, name deservedly forgotten) replied “Because it’s in the OZ!”.”

    As a result many Aussies are unaware of the appalling treatment of a very brave whistleblower.

    Recently when the Public Service Commissioner publicly condemned Kessing AFAIK none of the MSM journalists pulled him up on it. http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/speeches/2013/sedgwick300313 http://victimsofdsto.com/psc/#kessing

    Likewise recently The Age ran a story portraying the CSIRO as a victim of industrial espionage – which appeared to be an official leak to promote the surveillance agenda, yet self-censored seven cases (I was one) where the government was the thief. The Age are yet to respond to this: http://victimsofdsto.com/open/theage

    Why is this important? Because as Robert Ebert said: “One person can’t rule ten without the co-operation of some of those ten.”

    In order to stop corruption, you need to stop not only the corrupt, but those who help them get away with it: That includes not just systemically-corrupt oversight agencies such as the Ombudsman and AFP, but organisations which give them undeserved praise (e.g. Transparency International) and the MSM who self-censor stories of government corruption.

    ABC’s Chris Masters said that ‘Australia is a very secret society and the defamation laws are a big contributor to this culture. Self-censorship is all about self-preservation and it is everywhere.’ http://www.crikey.com.au/2001/06/03/why-does-australia-promote-secrecy-by-restricting-free-speech/

    US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis: “I have talked to you about the wickedness of people shielding wrongdoers & passing them off (or at least allowing them to pass themselves off) as honest men. … If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.” http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2009/05/26/brandeis-and-the-history-of-transparency/

    <= That is supposed to be the media's job. The corrupt couldn't get away with it if the MSM were telling the public what they were getting up to.

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