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Nobody Trusts Bloggers!

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 11:00 PM

I just read about a study at the University of Texas at Austin that reveals that bloggers are the least trusted content producers in media.

independent bloggers, were at the bottom of the trust scale.


Why is that? What do you think?

* most of them are biased and pitching "their agenda"?

* they don't do their research?

* they post poorly written crap

* they hype everything to get ad impressions?

#2 iamlost


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 12:59 AM

I am of two minds about the 'study'.
Yes, the quotes are deliberate. The bias is both explicit and implicit and unacknowledged (that I saw).

The study surveyed professional baseball teams. Duh. About blogs. Blogs by their nature, even those attached to media organisations are continuing opinion columns. And the 'respect' that old school sports reporters bring to the front office, stadium, locker room is going to be minimal. Blogs have much more in common with the 'yellow' journalism of a century ago than the corporate media of the past decades.

And similarly with that 'old time' journalism and new time talk radio the bottom line is ratings (measure as you will) and ratings require an identifiable persona (usually abrasive), coupled with an identifiable agenda. And detail preferrably shocking. Web copywriting is all headlines, bullet points, colour, action, shock and attention. Just like talk radio and scandel sheets of every era.

That any corporation or professional person (and by salary level that makes ball players very professional indeed) would prefer polite to brash, control to chaos is no surprise.

What I take away from the 'study':
1. professional baseball organisations do not understand social media.
Duh, many/most corporations do not understand social media. They know it is there, they know they should have a presence (even though they don't really know why), they are what I call social media fakers. They talk the talk but two beats behind hoping no one will realise they don't actually know the words.

2. bloggers rarely attribute.
Duh, bloggers are mostly inadvertant reporters. Mostly they are opinionators. On the flip side mainstream media increasingly steals/plagerises from bloggers without attribution. And that is really professional incompetence.

3. Bloggers are least trusted?
Not by the public - that is obvious from the visitor/view numbers. By the 'organisation' they are blogging their opinion and inconvenient facts about. D'oh.

#3 A.N.Onym


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 04:07 AM

I've read the opposite: bloggers are the most trusted of the media (50-60%, with 14% being the vendors site info), thanks to their independent reporting.

Then again, in a research or buying phase, 30% of large B2B buyers check vendors website, less than 40%, who check the reviews online. This one is determined by what kind of info a buyer needs (and professional recommendations play a large role in the buying decision).

As iamlost mentioned, it's the target/sample audience that determines the results.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 27 August 2010 - 04:08 AM.




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Posted 27 August 2010 - 06:39 AM

The study surveyed professional baseball teams. Duh. About blogs.

lol... I think that the team management/ownership might worry about bloggers. Newspapers, TV and radio are "moderate" reporters most of the time but bloggers can be extreme - they can really like you or dislike you. So, traditional media are safer.

bloggers are the most trusted of the media (50-60%, with 14% being the vendors site info), thanks to their independent reporting.

Interesting... maybe "independent" partially means that the advertisers who want to be associated with sports teams are probably not paying the bloggers for ad space.

I also thought how this might impact ticket sales... if all you need is a blog to get free press tickets then it would be cost effective for everyone who wants to attend sports events to have a blog. Where would the teams draw the line with citizen publishers?

#5 A.N.Onym


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 07:01 AM

An independent blogger is the one, who is unlikely to change his opinion, if any amount of money changes hands. Earned authority (Aaron Wall comes to mind) would be the best example here.

If we look at the study to answer your question, then I doubt those bloggers will get any tickets. For bloggers to get any free pass they have to provide any reasonable benefit to the sports arena/teams and a open-minded manager/director, unless there's some (local) that labels bloggers as mass media, which guarantees them free tickets to sport games of their choice (I haven't ever heard about this one, though).

#6 jonbey


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 08:41 AM

I suppose it really depends on what the reader is looking for. Bloggers can be very honest and some come across as trustworthy. Others are just marketing goods.

Really, we probably need to define bloggers differently now. Anyone writing a blog is a blogger, but someone writing about their love of goldfish is very different from someone's personal political opinion blog, and that again is very different from a blog about weight loss supplements.

All could be equally trusted really, while at the same time considered to be far to biased to provide any true value to the reader.

What do you want from a blog? Are the tabloids to be trusted? Local radio? Which voice do you trust and why?

Regarding the commercial bloggers, in a way what they are promoting could well be the best products on the market. No point in trying to promote products that are no good, as people soon learn that and complain. Larger organisations however have contractual relationships to advertise and the products they display could well be overpriced and substandard. Who should you trust now?

#7 Ruud


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 09:26 AM

In general blogs rank under traditional media and friends' WOM.

Posted Image

And in general, that is; world-wide, (*private*) blogs are the least trusted source of news -- except for countries with a repressive or restrictive regime like China.

Posted Image

A problem is that someone somewhere needs to define what a blog is before you can ask questions about it. So when you tell me you trust online news ... what does that mean? Traditional media online (NY Times, BBC) or new media online (Techcrunch, ReadWriteWeb)?

When one trusts company websites, does that exclude the ones built on MT or Wordpress?




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Posted 27 August 2010 - 09:53 AM

Nice reference, Ruud. Thank you for sharing it.

Some big-name news sites also have blog areas, for example, CNN has iReport (which they admit does not have the editorial oversight and standards and feature CNN stories).

Anybody can be a "reporter" on some big news sites. This blurs the "trusted site" concept to maybe "trusted author when he is writing about certain subjects but not when he is doing a political rant".

#9 Michael_Martinez


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 01:26 PM

I think there is a lot of enertia built up in traditional marketing principles and how the rest of us view marketing and news. Changing the flow of energy in that environment takes a lot of time and the input of a lot of new energy. It's really not a good idea to oversimplify what is happening. At the microlevel the constant changes are more profound for individual bloggers and marketers who reach out to media.

#10 AbleReach


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 05:52 PM

What? Nobody has jumped in and blamed Search, or keyword-generated ads?

When money can be made by putting up content that isn't quite as rich and promising as clicking on an ad, quasijournalistic crap will proliferate. Of course it's not trustworthy. It's not there to be trustworthy. It's there to get traffic that will build income by clicking on ads.

What about blogger-generated income that doesn't come from ads? Well.... let's say Joe Expert writes a foolproof powerhouse plan for [fill in this blank] and puts it up for sale to their devotees. An ebook is born. No editorial oversight. Who fact-checks Joe? Is crowd-sourced opinion/buzz (aka gaming links or the often spammy blog comment-vote) a replacement for editorial oversight? I don't think so.

There is a huge gulf between trustworthy journalism and the earned trust of a blogger, even the earned trust of a smart, reliable and interesting blogger. Bloggers very often write from opinion and passion - it keeps us going. There is a problem there. The difference between persuasion's social proof and journalism's fact-checking proof has become blurred - or at least less acknowledged, and that can really mess with your head.

Does Joe Expert back up his information with references? Does he differentiate between reporting and exposing journalistic facts, and persuasive editorialism? Probably not. Even the really good bloggers do not have separate categories for fact vs editorial style content, and why would they? When courting search engines, categorization is done with keywords. [keyword+editorial] isn't exactly a hot search term.

Editorial. Look it up. Once upon a time editorials used to be in a separate section of the newspaper. You'd find editorials in the op-ed section, the opinion-editorial section. Do bloggers differentiate between journalism and editorialism? Very often not, especially when they're building buzz or telling you why you need their ebook.

I'm not saying that blogging is bad.
I am saying that we are still in the infancy of things online.
Newspapers had a couple hundred years to develop into what was working for us 20 years ago, pre-Internet.

Some of the problem is the educational level of the audience. IMHO, Joe Average would struggle to define the difference between investigative journalism and editorialism. You may have guessed that I don't think we should pay attention to bloggers who say to use small words and not worry overmuch about grammar and punctuation. Those details aren't a big deal when skimming, be it a search engines skimming for keyword relationships or people skimming for a general idea of a topic. Real reading involves more discernment, which takes me back to the first line of this post: "What? Nobody has jumped in and blamed Search, or keyword-generated ads?"

Search isn't bad. It does come with a landscape of its own.

#11 A.N.Onym


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 07:44 PM

Correct me, if I'm wrong, but doesn't the reverse relate to journalism: less effort is spent on fact-checking, some publications go for buzz, not important news, etc, especially with all the staff cutting in the field? So I have to agree with you, the line of trustable journalism is blurred, from both of the sides.

Edit: the research that said people trusted small biz and news sites the most was from 2002, so I removed the screenshot.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 27 August 2010 - 08:13 PM.

#12 jonbey


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Posted 27 August 2010 - 07:58 PM

Yep, that is what I meant by the tabloids. In the UK so many people read papers like The Sun and Daily Express that are just full or nonsense with a political spin. Totally untrustworthy. I'd sooner read some random blog than any of those papers if it provided me with information and amusement.

But... there is always a butt .... the reason why these papers do what they do is because they follow one simple rule - give the people what they want.

This is something I struggle with on my health site. A lot of people want to hear that they can lose weight by popping a few expensive coffee/tea pills and drinking rabbits urine. I feel that I should educate them otherwise.

But, I do not get paid to educate people. The governent have given me no grant. So what do I do? Give the people what they want? I just try to compromise somewhere between peddling snake oil and tell lies to taking people by the hand and showing them how to empower themselves for free.

That is what my site started out as, a means to empower people to get fit and lose weight. The idea was that people would come, read the information, say thank you then buy something. I have since realised that the internet, business and the world does not work quite like that.

It's funny, I recall as a kid being upset about bands that would "sell out" and go commercial. Its all about he survival of the fittest.

Maybe I could get lottery funding.....

#13 tam


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Posted 28 August 2010 - 01:26 PM

Bloggers are just random strangers. It sounds fairly logical that the majority wouldn't trust them. Although perhaps surprising at the same time considering the amount of people that take information found on the web as gospel. Newspapers have the benefit of being organisations which gives them a bit more credit (even when it's undeserved).

Bloggers, like most websites, need to build trust so if you gave a random person a link to a random blog and said "do you trust this site" they'd probably say no. Ask the same question about a blog they've found and followed for a while and they'll probably say yes.

A lot of people want to hear that they can lose weight by popping a few expensive coffee/tea pills and drinking rabbits urine.

I have a rabbit, wanna go into business? ;)

#14 A.N.Onym


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Posted 28 August 2010 - 11:03 PM

That's the thing about bloggers: some have earned their trust, some haven't. Some people have found bloggers they trust, some haven't. All this affects studies and I don't think there's a clear way to see which way it is, other than with a huge sample.

#15 AbleReach


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Posted 29 August 2010 - 12:45 AM

I have a rabbit, wanna go into business?

Ohhhhh Noooooo

#16 send2paul


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Posted 30 August 2010 - 01:28 AM

Morning! ;)

I think this has been touched upon in various points so far, but it seems to me that surveys like these are bit obscure because it:

A. Depends on who is doing the survey, i.e. who sponsored the survey and why?
B. What did they ask to obtain any results, and particularly the result that blogger's are the least trustworthy?
C. Who did they ask - who were their sample, and how did they decide that those people should be their sample - what were the parameters of the sample?
D. Would their "sample", i.e. the people they asked, be knowledgeable enough to give an unbiased and true answer about the things they were being asked about?

I know this is true of any kind of survey, but to use an extreme - there's no point in asking Trappist monks who spend their time alone up a hill somewhere, anything about the internet, is there?

And..... trusted for what, exactly?

I mean, if we took an international news item as the content that we were applying and as the content we measuring against all the mediums....... it's not rocket science to suggest that the blogger would be last on the Trusted List, and the international news company be first.
But, if there was a local event - carnival, or natural disaster - would the pictures, word, stories, of the local bloggers be more "trustworthy" than an international news medium? (Of course, from a search point of view the local blog would unlikely to be found on the internet as well! :infinite-banana: )

Am I trusted? I was approached last week by an online article writing company to write a sponsored blog piece about a road safety campaign being sponsored by a major UK insurance company. I published the piece on my blog. They are paying me quite handsomely for it as well! So..... am I trusted? The insurance company has hired the article writing company - so they trust them. The article writing company sought me out - so they trust me. The item has been written and gained a place in Google search results - so Google trusts me, (otherwise that piece and my blog would have dropped out of the SERPs). Am I a trusted blogger?

As a piece of fantastic journalism - my blog piece is not. But that's not was I was hired to do. I did a job as per the "brief" from the article writing company/car insurance company. Anybody reading it will be "informed, educated and entertained" - as most mediums try to do. It will win no Pulitzer prize, and will not be featured in "The Greatest Book Of Internet Writing" - but it fulfills it's objectives, and therefore is a "trusted" piece of writing as far as the car insurance company, the article writing company and myself are concerned.

Of course, it may not be perceived as a trusted blog piece, but rather as some spammy piece of writing thrown up onto the internet with some pics, videos and a few links - which is essentially what it is. So is the idea of "trust" being only in the "eye of the beholder" because these are the people who view the item, and are also on the receiving end of the survey being quizzed about what they've seen?

I think the whole idea of "trust" on these types of surveys has too may variables just to say that "one medium is more trusted than another" based on a few questions and not taking into consideration "content", or how that content has come about.

Interesting topic for discussion - good one Egol :infinite-banana:

#17 earlpearl


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Posted 30 August 2010 - 10:04 AM

To take the opposite approach:

I follow certain bloggers very closely and scan through a group of blogs. I've learned over time to trust their comments and judgement. I also know I can disagree with their comments and receive a fair shake.

As Michael suggested it takes time to develop reader trust. Once you accomplish that on some level the friends and family suggestions will help the blog grow.

I don't mistrust most blogs, or most blogs more than media. I simply don't read them.

#18 send2paul


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Posted 02 September 2010 - 03:09 PM

As a slight side issue.... how many people have the time to really say "they follow" blogs - I mean really follow blogs... read them regularly, comment, participate with the blog etc?

Even in my earliest blogging days I jumped into Blog Rolling etc and joined various blogging groups - but I only ever read maybe one or two blogs every now and again. And, sadly, all the personal blogs I used to read have now become defunct and are no longer around.

I guess if your business is online and you need/want to follow certain "Business Blogs" , then perhaps I can accept someone saying "I follow several blogs" - but it seems mighty hard work to me! :)

#19 A.N.Onym


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Posted 03 September 2010 - 07:51 AM

I do follow most bloggers for work and if they recommend something that'll help me work better, I'll buy it (even though I'm thrifty/lazy and prefer to do things myself). There are also a few well known blogs I have read earlier and I still trust them.

#20 Ruud


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Posted 03 September 2010 - 08:05 PM

There are blogs I really follow, yes. Keener Living by Bruce Keener, for example. When he posts, I pay attention. There's an SEO blog I follow, the only blog I receive email updates for simply because I never want to miss a post.

#21 glyn


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Posted 10 September 2010 - 03:36 AM


I'd like to throw in questions of source creditibility here.

emarketer - nice ouputs and graphics that support the industry of "e". Take them with a massive pinch, actually a barrel of salt. Every stat I have ever seen them produce has made me conclude that the market is fine.

uni of texas at austin - obviously has a high credibility and authority, but just open up the newspaper to see where big companies leverage academic institutions to do PR masquerading as research.

"Avery Holton, a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin, surveyed 127 professional baseball teams from every organizational level to measure their "trust" in various media and how they responded to requests for press passes."

Why did he do that. What were his motivations. I've met a number of academics who are also frustrated by the fact that they never made it in the professional to which they master.

"Many independent bloggers, such as MLBTradeRumors.com and Yahoo! Sports, have upward of two million pages views daily and represent some of the Internet's heaviest traffic, yet they rank far behind traditional media on trust and are the most likely group to be rejected (29 percent) for a press pass vs. traditional media (8 percent)."

Can you say that the readership of blogs and the readership of newspapers are the same audiences, and have the same opportunities to read? Is it possible to draw comparisons between these two groups without getting skewed data?

Would one group (newspaper readers) support the villification of the other (blog readers). Is there an age demographic at work here. Probably yes, as there is an age demographic in online audiences.

News media hoover up blogs as sources, whether TV or Google news. In fact much of news journalism is simply a press release with a twist.

All these points are things that I consider when I see a press release such as this.

Remember also that newspapers and "proper journalists" reported that President Kennedy was assasinated, that the war in Iraq was justified, to name but a very few.

Thanks for sharing.


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