Trust and mass media

Thursday - 19/10/2017 02:38
"Trust, media and mass media" was the topic presented to students of Faculty of Journalism and Communication, USSH by Dr. Martha Kuhnhenn (Faculty of Political Science and Communication Studies, University of Ugreifswald, Germany) on October 17th 2017.

The speaker began by emphasizing the importance of this topic in political communication in Germany and other countries around the world today. Whenever a politician gets elected, information and discussions regarding his trust and credibility are shared and expressed in different ways by the public and the media.

Dr. Martha introduced the notion of trust given by a well-known sociologist - Niklas Luhmann. In a complex world, there is no complete information about everything. However, people have to trust because trust motivates action. Hence, trust reduces the complexity of society and the world, helping us overcome the lack of information and generalizing our expectations of behavior. In other words, trust serves to replace unknown information with internal assurance.

Trust is necessary in many different situations. It is expressed at many levels: the personal level among individuals; the institutional level or organizational level; and the highest is social level.

Dr. Martha also referred to the difference between trust and hope. Trust is an act based on reliability and certain expectations and used to make decision, while hope relies on feelings and unclear information and is not as reliable. Another concept associated with trust is credibility. The speaker said credibility is a sub-domain of trust. It is not a feature attached to an individual or an organization, but a product of a multi-positioned process of interaction and sharing. Trust is also expressed and viewed in a multi-dimensional way. While trust is a concept aimed towards the future, credibility is related to the present.

Discussing the components of credibility in the context of political communication, the presenter pointed out four elements: capability, social integration, reputation and comprehensibility. In particular, media studies have shown that politicians often establish public credibility and trust effectively via social integration, by creating emotional links to seek understanding and sympathy from the public.

What criteria or indicators should journalists and media practitioners take into account while building credibility towards readers? Dr. Martha said realizing the importance of data and facts and specific, accuracy information will help cultivate confidence in journalists. On the other hand, journalists should create and share specific emotional and situational stories to gain more attention, sympathy, and understanding from readers.

A ceremonial picture with Dr. Martha Kuhnhenn

Author: Thanh Hà

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