Who Do You Trust?

AdAge reports that Edelman’s “Trust Barometer” has grim news: we don’t trust much of anybody anymore when it comes to product and company recommendations. But for a lucky few, there’s also some good news:

Conversely, CEOs — who have of late been trotted out as public faces of their companies in times of stress, such as General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre — saw the biggest year-over-year increase from 17% in 2009 to 26% this year. Other groups seeing increases in the level of consumer trust were government officials (22% vs. 27%), a financial/industry analyst (46% vs. 52%)….

In some cases, social networks themselves may be contributing to the decline in trust. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have allowed people to maintain larger circles of casual associates, which may be diluting the credibility of peer-to-peer networks. In short, the more acquaintances a person has, the harder it can be to trust him or her. Mr. Edelman believes the Facebook component has “absolutely” played a role in diluting trust levels.

If this is really true, it’s beyond bizarre. Consumers trust each other less but trust CEOs, government officials, and financial analysts more? In other words, they trust the very people who were most responsible for our recent financial collapse? WTF?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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