The results of a survey conducted by the University of Insubria opens up a reflection on the work of those who produce information. But all is not lost, on the contrary…
A survey conducted by the University of Insubria measured trust in institutions, professions, and the reasons why information no longer generates the same involvement as before. From the sample of 1,106 people who responded to the survey on trust in institutions, professions and the media, a very comforting picture does not emerge. The test was indeed carried out in a period when the formation of a government was still awaited two months after the elections, but the results are in line with similar polls carried out in Northern Europe and the United States.
We can therefore speak of a global crisis, not only in Italy, one that involves some institutions, such as governments, and certain professions, in particular those concerning the media, where the survey focused on a third question to find out why there don’t inquire more.
The result is a not exactly positive picture that indicates trust in the journalistic profession among the lowest, obtaining only 8.2% of the answers of the sample, immediately after hairdressers, with 8.3%. Not to mention bloggers, last in the ranking, with 1.1%. This data is not so different from that obtained in Denmark, where the latest poll conducted in 2017 rated the credibility of journalists next to that of taxi drivers, real estate agents, car salesmen and politicians, all at the bottom of the scale.
On the reasons why there is a general disaffection with the news, the situation is not too different. This can be understood from the decline in newspaper sales, which in the last 10 years has led to the closure of almost 10 thousand newsstands in Italy (there were 38 thousand), from the decline in advertising revenues, from the reduction in the number of journalists in the newsrooms, and the arrival of social networks (great amplifiers of fake news). And it is not just a question of the digital revolution, which has certainly changed a scenario that had crystallised in the previous decades. The survey reveals that the main reason why we no longer inform ourselves is that the information has become too spectacular to attract attention (55%), as if to say that something has been done to change the situation, but evidently in the wrong direction. This is followed by the idea that information is too conditioned by vested interests (44%).
Globally, the first cause of disaffection is since the news harms people’s mood (48%), the second is that readers question the veracity of the news itself (37%), according to the Reuters Institute’s annual Digital News Report.
But how are our European colleagues trying to solve this void? The answer is as simple as it is logical, at least in the head of news consumers, less so in that of publishers. Through a more constructive approach to the construction of news, or by treating the arguments and facts with the same rigour as investigative journalism, but with an interpretation that opens up possible solutions, resolving interventions, best practices that have already solved that problem elsewhere or who are potentially able to do so.
Solutions to problems, therefore, and not just problems. The result is not to leave the reader with a bitter taste, a feeling of indignation, frustration, that sense of helplessness that leads us to move away from the problem, and therefore from the news that, as they are written today, are rarely objective and bring no added value to those who read them. For the newspapers that believed in the approach of constructive journalism, there was a significant recovery of the audience lost in decades of bad information, as evidenced by the New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, the Danish state TV, to quote just a few examples.
The situation can therefore only improve, after having hit rock bottom. Italy, as we know, always arrives a few years later, but inexorable changes will also come.
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