The media is now Ireland's least trusted institution

People are also getting increasingly suspicious of NGOs

The media is now Ireland's least trusted institution

Picture by: Richard B. Levine/SIPA USA/PA Images

The media is seen as the least trustworthy institution in the country, according to new findings from Edelman Ireland.

Its 2017 Trust Barometer reveals "a crisis in trust levels across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs".

The worst perception is of the media, with people's trust in it falling from 39% to 29% last year.

Edelman Ireland says that a cycle of distrust is being magnified by the emergence of a media echo chamber that reinforces personal beliefs while shutting out opposing points of view.

Irish respondents favour search engines (53%) over human editors (47%) and are more than 2.5 times more likely to ignore information that supports a position they do not believe in. Some 49% stated that they never or rarely change their position on important social issues.

Trust in the Government remained low but steady at 32%.

Elsewhere, trust in business and NGOs dropped and are now only 2 percentage points apart at 41% and 43% respectively.

Overall, less than half of Irish people have faith in the world around them.

Some 59% of respondents believe that the system has failed them – that it is unfair and offers little hope for the future – while only 15 percent believe it is working, and more than one-quarter are uncertain.

Even those who seem to objectively doing well voiced their concerns.

The research showed that 55% of the top income quartile, 59% of the third level educated and 56% of the well-informed believe the system has failed.

The credibility of leaders in Ireland was also found to be "in peril".

CEO credibility dropped 16 points to 27%, putting it on par with government officials and boards of directors as the least credible spokespeople. The most credible spokespeople in Ireland are seen to be academic experts (61%), technical experts (58%) and 'a person like yourself' (54%).

Joe Carmody, managing director of Edelman Ireland, said:

"2016 and early 2017 has been a period of almost unimaginable upheaval. People in multiple countries rejected their government’s leaders or policies, demonstrating their dissatisfaction and distrust by electing reform or outsider candidates, voting to leave trading blocs, or refusing to support treaties negotiated by their governments.

"The mainstream media lost audience as people turned to social media and search for information, advertising results were questioned, and the spectre of fake news has left the public wondering what is true anymore.

"The findings of the 2017 Trust Barometer help provide a roadmap for understanding the forces that influenced the tide of populist action that swept across many western-style democracies. Ireland must consider itself on notice for the rise of populism.

"Once the majority of the population believes that the system is no longer serving them, they also become vulnerable to the fears that can fuel anti-establishment actions.”

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s 17th annual study.

Conducted by research firm Edelman Intelligence, the online survey sampled more than 33,000 respondents consisting of 1,150 general population respondents in each country aged 18 and over, as well as 500 informed public respondents in the U.S. and China and 200 informed public respondents in all other countries across 28 markets.