Publication details

Trust and Distrust in Public Service Media: A Case Study from the Czech Republic

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Year of publication 2023
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description Although in many countries, public service media (PSM) is a trusted island in their media landscape (European Broadcasting Union, 2022), this does not mean that trust in PSM is absolute and universal. This study adopts a qualitative approach to explore what trust and distrust entail for the public, a perspective rarely applied in trust research. It focuses on the case of the Czech Republic, where the level of trust in the news is among the lowest in the world but, at the same time, where PSM is the most trusted national news source (Newman et al., 2022). Based on four focus group discussions with participants (N=24) from the general Czech population, this study explores the reasons for the audience’s trust and distrust in Czech PSM. These can be grouped into three main categories: trust in message (people trust PSM if, in their view, it provides objective, truthful, reliable, relevant, and fast information without sensationalism and anti-system views); trust in source (people trust PSM if they perceive the PSM journalists as professional, i.e., impartial and with high expertise); and trust in PSM organizations (people trust PSM if they perceive the regulatory framework as effective in ensuring systemic independence from politics and oversight boards as a guarantee of quality standards). In addition to these reasons, satisfaction with non-news PSM content and a personal tendency towards media skepticism seem to be important in shaping trust in PSM.
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