A recent survey by Edelman revealed that global trust in the media and government has fallen, which means businesses have become the most trusted institution.
The survey, which takes the responses from over 33 000 respondents, measures trust out of a score of 100 with a score of 50 and above considered trustworthy.
Global trust in government leaders fell to 41 after remaining at 43 for 2020, while trust in journalists was recorded at 45, a 5 point decline from last year. Trust in the respondent’s CEO or employer eclipsed both these numbers as it stood at 63.
“Business is now the most trusted institution taking over from government, which saw its 11-point trust surge evaporate after months of politics supplanting science and facts,” Karena Crerar, Advisory Lead at Edelman Africa said.
“An overall increase in trust in business could indicate that either business worked hard to earn trust over this period, or that government and media had a disappointing response.”
However, Crerar also admitted that Covid-19 likely played a dominant role in the drop of trust in government and media.
“The pandemic certainly put trust to the test and it precipitated a number of other issues including increased inequality, economic downturn and job losses. Also, disinformation on the pandemic created confusion and put pressure on governments’ ability to be dependable on its information,” she said.
Yet, at the forefront of any immediate challenges, will be to convince the public to take the Covid-19 vaccine. Out of the people surveyed, only 64% are willing to take the vaccine, with only 31% committed to vaccinating after the next six months to one year.
In South Africa, this number is much lower, with only 49% willing to take the vaccine, and 21% ready to take it as soon as possible.
Government trust declines
Of the total amount of people surveyed, 57% believe their government leaders are purposely trying to mislead the population through false or gross exaggerations.
Furthermore, global trust in government scored 53 points in the trust barometer, a three-point increase from the previous survey.
South Africa, meanwhile, saw a rise in government trust, but still scored the second-lowest out of the 27 countries surveyed.
Last year trust in the South African government stood at 20 points, but this year it saw a rise to 27.
Trust in media falls
In addition, 59% of the total people surveyed thought journalists were purposely trying to mislead their readers by publishing misinformation or grossly exaggerating certain facts.
The same percentage of people also believed that media news organisations were more concerned with supporting an ideology than informing the public.
Trust in the media scored 51 points on the barometer, a two-point increase from the last report.
In comparison, South Africa scored 42 points in this section, also maintaining a two-point difference from the last report.
Business levels remain steady
Compared with media and government, business trust ranked highest with a 61-point score, a two-point increase from the last survey. South Africa scored the same in this section of the survey, but registered a three-point increase.
“Over the last five months, business seized the high ground of trust by proactively developing vaccines in record time and finding new ways to work. The private sector also may have shown up well in response to social issues such as racial injustice as viewed by those surveyed,” said Crerar.
The report also mentioned that if business ensured there was a “guarding information quality” there would be a 5.8% increase in trust for businesses.
“Guarding information quality refers to ensuring that only reliable, trustworthy information is being shared and consumed. A business must take action before it talks if it is to remain credible,” Crerar said.
Edelman is set to release more South African-based statistics during mid-February this year.