Trust in media is about credibility not truth, placing journalists at a disadvantage vs. bloggers 5/13/08Posted by Steve Boriss in Trust.
In his excellent book Can You Trust the Media?, Adrian Monck suggests that with the advent of TV, audiences discovered a new way to determine whether news outlets could be trusted. It was no longer a matter of simply weighing the outlet’s track record for delivering “truth,” i.e. for making statements that survived the rigors of reality testing. It was now about “credibility,” and Monck cites Neil Postman’s position that this is a matter of the news-teller’s perceived “sincerity, authenticity, vulnerability, or attractiveness.”
This highlights another frustration newspaper journalists now suffer. Many claim the single most important advantage they have over bloggers, if not their justification for survival, is their ability to deliver truth. But bloggers who are unconstrained by the cold, objective, impersonal style required by Modern Journalism can more easily present themselves as more credible — sincere, authentic, and vulnerable. Worse yet, Modern Journalism almost requires journalists to sacrifice their credibility by insisting they always publish the truth and are objective, false claims regularly exposed by the Internet. Journalism has a credibility gap, and it must release its grip from cherished, but false ideals to narrow it.