The Participation Blog

Trust Requires Truth

Edelman is a global communication firm that has tracked trends in public trust for the past 20 years. Their annual trust barometer measures public trust around four institutions: big business, media, non-governmental organization and government. Their data and analysis has been a goldmine for informing the work that we do if we bother paying attention to it. There’s a lot to digest in this comprehensive 20 year analysis, but one observation tends to stand out. The difference in trust between people who are informed and engaged – mostly the well-educated and wealthy – and those who aren’t (educated and wealthy) is dramatic, meaning that informed elites trust more than uninformed regular people and that gap is growing. You can take some exception to Edelman’s use of the word elites if you wish, but the fact is that general public mistrust of institutions continues to grow and most government organizations in particular just don’t realize the consequences of failing to deal with that reality, but they better start. It’s been easier for many bureaucrats to just survive today and let somebody else worry about tomorrow, which has resulted in where we are now. (By the way, if you’d like to start dealing with it, we can help.)

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