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Through Covid, journalists have regained the public’s trust in the press

What's New in Publishing 29 Oct 2020 06:50

OPINION

The British public have a turbulent relationship with the publishing media. In May we read reports that in a YouGov poll almost three-quarters of people didn’t trust newspaper journalists. At the time this was attributed to the way the press had reported on the emerging Coronavirus pandemic, with accusations they were out of step with the mood of the nation. 

So in light of that, it was particularly heartening to read recently that Newsworks’ “World Without News” study showed that two-thirds of people now value and appreciate the media more than before the Coronavirus crisis began. 

Since its launch in Australia in 2011 – and two years later in the UK – the premise of The Conversation has always been to democratise news, bringing high-quality content to a wider audience. But despite our secondary ambitions to raise the reputation of journalism, nearly a decade has passed since then and, in that time, trust in journalism has sunk lower and lower. 

Why then has it taken a pandemic to show the value in journalism? I suspect it is, in part, because Covid has proved a great leveller. It is not political (though, somewhat inevitably, has started to be used as a political weapon of late) and can seemingly strike anyone at any time. The people writing about it are, on the whole, as vulnerable to catching it as any one of us reading their words. This has brought a degree of humility to their reporting, something that few other situations have instigated in modern times.  

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