‘Read all about it’ used to be the cry of news-sellers, calling attention to their papers. For the last two years, research by Edelman found that we trust search engines for news more than ‘traditional media’.
“The results imply that readers are more likely to trust a headline they read in Google’s news aggregator, over the same headline on its original website.”
Edelman put the aggregators success down to the pithy means by which they serve the news – “Headlines that have been optimized for search engines are usually short and fact-based”, and so presented as ‘facts’ engender greater feelings of trust. It’s a powerful argument for the power of mircocopy for one thing.
More especially it draws attention to the problem we have trusting our media sources. While Google are cited as “one of the most trusted companies in the world”, ironically many feel search engine’s watch over us is troublesome. Yet the traditional press, who’s “first obligation is to the truth” seems plagued by issues of trust in how they source and present stories.
The disintermediation – the distance between source and signal – no doubt helps. But it remains a fascinating dilemma, that large (that is physically or visibly so) institutions are suffering a crisis of trust between themselves and their audiences. One neatly coined as an ‘Inversion of Influence’.
Spare a thought for that when you’re Googling (other search engines are available) all about it; you’re more likely to believe what you read. And think about how the ‘Inversion of influence’ is going to effect your business this year.