The chair of Edelman’s global practice, Ben Boyd, makes a decent observation about his personal mashup of media channels.
“I would argue Facebook for me is a source of news, but it doesn’t mean I trust it,” he says. “How often do we find an assertion [via blogging or social media] and then look to a primary source to prove or disprove the assertion. It’s a challenging environment for bloggers and reporters who are actively engaged across the social media sphere.
“The definition of media has been extremely dimensionalised. The reality in today’s world is no one channel is sufficient. Social media is not a fad. Search is not going away. But neither is traditional media. It’s just that credibility and sourcing are even more important.”
And interestingly, Australians are the least trusting of media globally, beaten only by Turkey. Just 15 per cent of Australians trust a blogger, 25 per cent trust information from the likes of Twitter and 32 per cent trust information from social media.
There is one argument put forward by Edelman on the Australian results which should be considered. The firm asserts that the online “anti-trolling” fallout around TV celebrity Charlotte Dawson, which forced the issue into the national debate, might have influenced its results. “Trust is circumstantial,” says Boyd, who believes the disdain held by many over aggressive online behaviour and remarks may have spilled negatively – and temporarily – into broader public perceptions. It’s possible, but the lesson remains: these emerging digital channels will not prove a magic propaganda pill. So tread carefully.
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