Facing Up to Trust

Robin Hunt (University College London, UK)

The ongoing CIBER "Google Generation" and "Digital Consumer" research being undertaken in the Centre for Publishing at University College London is illuminating many trends in online knowledge and information seeking, but the most pertinent perhaps for journalism, online and off, is the issue of trust. Is the behaviour of online knowledge
seekers contributing to the "End of Journalism" because it mirrors a collapse in trust with all traditional news sources? The behaviour of the majority of online information seekers, of all ages, can, from our long-term research, be portrayed in language such as: "frenetic, bouncing, promiscuous, diverse and volatile," among many surprising adjectives. And, as these are not, as far as we know, words often used about traditional scholars or consumers of news, and certainly not in the media marketing literatures, do even the half-certainties of twenty-first century news branders and marketers - and editors - hold up when considering news and consumer loyalty – and the inherent
un-trustworthiness of news brands? Or are we now simply in the midst of a "democratization of doubt" being disseminated by computer, phone and digital television? Are all online news consumers now armed with the same relativist cynicism that once was the preserve of French philosophers and nervy news editors? Are we simply at the end of a brief phase of history in which the idea that news is in any sense trustworthy held sway? Many of these answers will reveal themselves online; others will require us to explore why dog so rarely eats dog, and how the French wig can help us conceptualize that other kind of journalistic social networking that involves absolutely nothing to do with Facebook.

Timing - Friday Panel Session A2



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