Irish crumblies don’t trust blogs

It appears a public relations firm, Edelman’s, recently performed a phone survey which concluded that bloggers are the “least trusted” group of authority figures source of information in Ireland. This has been widely reported:

on Edelman Dublin’s blog:

When we consider who we trust the most as a spokesperson in Ireland, the most trusted sources of information include, financial or industry analysts at 62%, followed by a doctor or healthcare specialist at 57%, an NGO representative at 57% and academics at 53%. Bloggers are the least trusted at 7%.

at Silicon Republic:

Bloggers have emerged as the “least trusted” group in the country.

and on

“What has been interesting to note in this year’s findings is the apparent low standings of bloggers and social media in general,” said [Mark Cahalane, managing director of Edelman Dublin]. “One interpretation of the survey would be that bloggers have now entered the mainstream and people no longer distinguish between blogs and ordinary websites. This is also reflected by the fact that numerous high profile bloggers are widely quoted in the media.”

However, as Damien noted, Piaras Kelly raised a very significant point about this — ‘the people surveyed for the research had to fit a certain demographic, including having to be aged between 35-64.’ […] ‘A Generational gap is evident.’ This press release corroborates that. Sure enough, most blog readers (and writers) would tend to be of the younger generation — a pretty key point, one would assume, but one that most of the non-blogger coverage has omitted ;)

(Update: the term “authority figure” wasn’t quite correct; replaced with what Edelman themselves use, “source of information”.)

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  1. Posted January 31, 2008 at 12:10 | Permalink

    The other thing to note is that the international research included a younger demographic also which showed they they turn to social media as a trusted source, i.e. Wikipedia is the second most trusted source for US young opinion elites

    Also, bloggers are increasingly referenced in the mainstream media, so bloggers have an influence over the public even if the majority of people don’t read it off their website

  2. Posted January 31, 2008 at 12:18 | Permalink

    hi Piaras!

    as you noted in the linked post as well, when bloggers are quoted in mainstream press, they’re often credited using other affiliations; for example, I’ve been quoted in the past as “Irish software developer, Justin Mason” rather than “Irish blogger, Justin Mason”.

    Anyway, I think this’ll all change. even the crumblies are starting to get their heads around this stuff quite quickly…

  3. Posted January 31, 2008 at 13:26 | Permalink

    Hmmm, I find the entire context here pretty disturbing. A blog is just a medium, for people – some people are well-researched, trustworthy and a good source of cogent information (my favourite one to reference is FreedomToTinker, which is easily one of the most factually correct sources of opinion I use frequently). Other people are reactionary, ignorant, trolls – but then so is Fox News, and that’s on TV. It seems like a pretty bizarre question in the first place.

  4. V
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 13:50 | Permalink

    I’m not sure how it is possible to consider bloggers or opinion columnists as ‘Authority Figures’ , only a old git would do that. It also shows how in old age you start to cling to expert knowledge to give you an answer for everything and that there is a technical solution to all of life problems. How hard it must be to be an evangelical positivist.

  5. Posted January 31, 2008 at 14:57 | Permalink

    Bloggers are authority figures now? And there’s me thinking they were just… figures…


  6. Posted January 31, 2008 at 16:06 | Permalink

    actually “authority figure” was my reading. I think it’s more correct to use the term that Edelman themselves used — “source of information”, so I’ve updated the post to use that.

  7. ben
    Posted February 1, 2008 at 09:48 | Permalink

    The whole idea behind the question is so unutterably stupid. Do you trust magazines? “The Economist” and “Hot Press” are the same thing, right? Some blogs are informational, some are educational, some hold themselves to a scrupulously high standard, some are pure entertainment, some are personal musings.

    I suppose I “trust” BoingBoing to tell me about quirky things, Pharyngula to smack creationists on the nose, Groklaw to provide well-documented commentary on SCO vs Linux, and WWTDD, gloriously, to have pictures of Avril Lavigne in very little more than the altogether, but that’s just my personal blogroll talking and today was a very good day on that last score. But I also know that GUBU will be boring and ValleyWag will just be stupid.

  8. Posted February 1, 2008 at 13:10 | Permalink

    [posted this comment to blurred keys also]

    The survey did not measure trust in the mainstream media, it measured levels of trust among the wealthiest part of the population in articles about particular companies in the mainstream media. It is an attempt to quantify the PR benefits of getting news coverage compared to advertising and other PR approaches and has nothing at all to do with measuring generalised trust, even amongst the ABC1 segment of the population covered.

    It’s also a tiny sample size with a margin of error of over 10%, meaning that it’s pretty much statistically worthless. The huge divergence between this year and last in print media, for example, is a telltale sign of unreliable data (you can’t tell whether the huge change actually reflects a change in opinion, or is just a sampling artefact).