Stunning figures just in from our colleagues in Beijing show that web-based media (in its broadest sense) has affected a mini-revolution in who Chinese opinion formers now trust. The annual Edelman Stakeholder Study shows an average drop of 31 percent in trust ratings for the four institutions measured — Media, NGOs, Business and Government. Compared to the same study last year, trust in media dropped by 45 percent, followed by a 33-percent drop in trust in NGOs, a 32-percent drop for Business and a 27-percent drop for Government.
While trust in media as an institution overall has declined markedly,there has been a dramatic increase, of more than 150 percent, in the trust of web-based media. In fact, web-based media has overtaken television as the most trusted and believable media source of news and information in Mainland China.
We know from our Annual Trust Barometer that trust is a relative measure between countries (why else would trust in media in say Germany be half that in China where the media is not exactly free to report what it wants?), but what this study seems to show is that China, which has for years had very high trust scores in its major institutions, is now ‘normalising’ and is beginning to resemble more ‘developed’ countries (though for ‘normalising’ do not read ‘westernising’). And much of this has been driven by the web. The web makes available discussions and sources of information that provide alternative perspectives and the first reaction is obviously the growth in scepticism of the old channels and institutions. It will be a challenge for communication professionals both official and private sector in China to now accommodate this new reality. The democratisation of everything indeed . . even China!
[tags] Trust, China, Democratisation [/tags]