Political trust among journalists: Comparative evidence from 21 Countries


Thomas Hanitszch
Department of Communication Studies and Media Research,
Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany


Political scientists often argue that political trust is critical to democracy. While most studies focus on the effects of media coverage on public trust, the present analysis looks at the producers of news and asks following questions: How much trust do journalists have in (political) institutions? Do the journalists’ trust levels correspond to the general public’s political trust? What are the sources of journalists’ institutional trust? These questions are explored based on interviews with 2100 journalists from 21 countries. Results show that journalists in all investigated countries have indeed little trust in political parties and politicians. News people in the West are either more trusting in politics than the general population, or differences are not significant, while their colleagues in many non-western countries have significantly less political trust than the general public. Journalists have more trust under conditions of relative media freedom, low corruption and in societies where people generally tend to trust each other.