Journalists, and media generally, have had a rough few years. In most places, trust in the press remains low and the public expresses despair at the negative tone of news. Politicians from Donald Trump (“fake news”) to Robert Fico ("anti-Slovak prostitutes”) and Miloš Zeman (waving around rifles) take advantage of this mood to score easy points and deflect attention from scandal and incompetence.
According to the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford, just 34 percent of Slovaks trust the news. Even more surprising is that just 45 percent of people trust the news outlets that they themselves use, meaning a majority of people actually voluntarily consume news that they do not believe. Things are even worse in some of Slovakia’s neighbours as just 31 percent of Czechs and 29 percent of Hungarians trust news. One common assumption is that the low quality and negative tone of news stories are a problem caused by the supply side (journalists) rather than the demand side (consumers).
But what if it is the other way around?