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The Results Are In: Nobody Trusts Anyone Anymore

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For nearly 20 years, communications group Edelman has been gauging the public’s trust in key institutions like business, government, and the media. You don’t need a survey of more than 33,000 people in 28 countries to know that there is an anti-establishment mood sweeping the globe, but the numbers are even more stark.

In short, there has been a “global implosion” in trust, Edelman says. This year’s survey recorded the largest-ever drop of trust in business, government, the media, and NGOs. A majority of people in two-thirds of countries surveyed now distrust these institutions, with all-time low levels of trust recorded in a number of places.

The report is timed to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The world leaders, corporate chieftains, and media moguls who gather at the exclusive Alpine jamboree won’t find much solace in its findings.

The credibility of corporate CEOs, the most common Davos delegate, fell off a cliff, with only 37% of people saying they trust them, a 12-point drop from the previous year. CEO credibility fell in every country surveyed—an impressive feat. Still, they remain more trusted than government leaders (29%), so that’s something.

The media also takes a beating in Edelman’s latest survey, with 43% of respondents expressing trust in the press, down from 48% the year before. Trust in media fell to an all-time low in 17 of the 28 countries polled.

“People now view media as part of the elite,” said Richard Edelman, president of the firm that bears his name. These days, that’s an uncomfortable place to be.

The least trusted institution in 28 countries

Jason Karaian is Senior Europe Correspondent for Quartz, based in London. He previously spent 10 years at The Economist Group, first at the European edition of CFO magazine writing about the financial aspects of business and later, as financial services editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, covering the business aspects of finance. He also served as industries editor for The World In and wrote about everything from banks to bonds to basketball for The Economist. Before moving to London he was a macroeconomic analyst in Chicago, where he developed an affinity for data and statistics that he now uses to enrich—and demystify—stories about the business world.

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