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86% Think Journalists Are Misleading Them

There is a thing about trust. Trust has to be earned, and you earn it by proving that you can be trusted.

Written by on October 18, 2012

The top question everyone is asking in the newspaper industry is, "Why won't people pay for news?"

The answer, of course, is simple. You are not making a product worth paying for a world of abundance where everyone is doing the same thing.

After of years 'optimization' the news media have forgotten their readers. When newspapers optimize for page views, atomizes content, take popular clips from YouTube and present it as their own, writing deceptive headline to get one more click, focusing on finding scandals, and always finding the twist that gets more views... what's left is an angry reader.

None of those tactics is in the interest of the reader. Instead, they are all designed to deceive the reader.

Here in Denmark, Epinion, conducted a study looking at who people trust. Not surprisingly doctors, nurses, police and teachers scored the highest. While spin doctors, politicians, and journalists were the least trustworthy groups of all.

More to the point:

  • 80% thinks journalists are too focused on sensational stories.
  • 70% thinks journalists are focusing too much on the negatives.
  • 86% thinks journalists are misleading them.

(Via DR - in Danish)

See the problem here?

Why would anyone pay for this? It's not exactly the kind of product that is worth paying for.

Worse is how most newspapers have reported this story. The journalists looked at this study and wrote articles focusing on how bad the spin doctors and politicians are... trying to divert the problem to somewhere else.

Several journalists even put the blame on the politicians, saying that the reason journalist have a low trust score is because they are writing about the politicians. Others saying that it's because newspaper focus on change... and people don't trust change.

In other words, instead of looking at their own industry, journalists are putting a spin on the story by saying that it's someone else's fault.

When 86% thinks the journalists are misleading them, you don't try to fix this by using the tactics of spin doctors to point fingers at others.

There is no reason why journalists should be dragged down by the politicians and their spin doctors. That makes no sense. It should be exactly the opposite. The worse the politicians get, the better people should see you... because your role is to protect the reader.

You know, the reader? The one who doesn't want to pay for misleading stories, like when you are pointing fingers at others when it's really your own fault?

As the GPS says: "You are heading in the wrong direction. Please turn around."

There is a thing about trust. Trust has to be earned, and you earn it by proving that you can be trusted. It can never be someone else's fault, because you are still the one who has to prove it.


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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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