In the era of 'fake news,' Canada's trust in media is on the rise

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As Canada continues to be classified as a “distrusting” nation, the country has bypassed the plummeting trust in the United States, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer.

The study found 65 per cent of Canadian respondents worry about the threat of “fake news,” while trust in media and overall credibility in journalists is on the rise, up 17 points from 2017.

“Fears about fake news are pervasive, and we are seeing Canadians turn back to credentialed experts in their efforts to dispel them,” says a statement from Lisa Kimmel, president and CEO of Edelman Canada.

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Despite the overall trust in media in Canada, the same increase was not seen in terms of social media.

Less than one third of respondents trust social media as a source of news. That is lower than traditional and online media outlets, and search engines.

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The study found 46 per cent of Canadians believe the government is the “most broken” institution, but overall trust in Canadian government remains steady.

In the U.S., there was a significant decrease in the trust for the U.S. government, reaching only 33 per cent among both the general public and informed public. This specific decrease drove the overall collapse in trust in the U.S.

“The United States is enduring an unprecedented crisis of trust,” Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman says in a statement. “This is the first time that a massive drop in trust has not been linked to a pressing economic issue or catastrophe like the Fukushima nuclear disaster.”

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From a corporate perspective, Canadian companies were found to be the most trusted globally at 68 per cent, followed by Switzerland, Sweden, and Australia.

There is also an increase in the number of Canadians who view traditional authority figures as credible sources of information, including CEOs and government officials. The Trust Barometer found 68 per cent of Canadians believe CEOs should lead change instead of the government.

“The trust afforded to ‘Brand Canada’ is a significant opportunity for our businesses, but it is imperative that they are proactive in seizing it,” Kimmel says. “We need to start leveraging those attributes that have made Canadian companies so trustworthy in the first place: our values and our sense of purpose.”

The annual study by the research firm measures trust and credibility in 28 markets through a series of online interviews. Edelman surveyed over 33,000 respondents, 1,500 Canadians, ages 18 and over in October and November 2017.