Isn’t it time to resurrect some trust?

Published 1:59 pm Sunday, February 4, 2018

Twenty-five years ago a journalism professor told me, “If you mother tells you she loves you, you’d better verify it.”

His point to young journalists was simple — don’t take anything someone says as fact and trust no one unless you can prove what they’re telling you is correct.

That’s a good rule if you’re in the business of reporting facts for a living.

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But distrusting everyone — including your mother — is not particularly healthy.

Unfortunately, a new report indicates Americans distrust one another more than ever.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer suggests trust in the United States suffered the largest-ever-recorded drop in the survey’s history.

Trust among the informed public in the U.S. is now the lowest of the 28 countries surveyed the barometer indicated. That’s lower than Russia and South Africa.

The utter implosion of trust is not difficult to see or believe.

Our nation has an incredible distrust for the government, big business, media and even nonprofits.

Effectively, we trust no one, including our own mothers.

“The United States is enduring an unprecedented crisis of trust,” said Richard Edelman, the president and CEO of the entity behind the barometer. “This is the first time that a massive drop in trust has not been linked to a pressing economic issues or catastrophe like the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“In fact, it’s the ultimate irony that it’s happening at a time of prosperity, with the stock market and employment rates in the U.S. at record highs. The root cause of this fall is the lack of objective facts and rational discourse.”

Regardless of whether one believes they’ve been taken by either a Russian operative or some teenager hoping to make some easy cash by faking some news, the distrust in the media is at a record level, the Edelman Barometer suggested.

The media is distrusted in 22 of the 28 countries surveys. With information at one’s fingertips and a world of information (some trustworthy, some not) available in the palm of one’s hands, the source of information is difficult to discern sometimes, let alone trust.

The Edelman Barometer indicates that 63 percent of respondents say they do not know how to tell trustworthy journalism from falsehoods. Nearly 6 out of 10 said they have an inability to identify the truth, 56 percent said they did not trust government leaders and 4 out of 10 distrust business.

Such is easy to understand, particularly when the national television media is typically extremely biased toward one political party or another.

Everyone, it seems, is out for his or her own benefit.

Church attendance lately seems to be declining rapidly, too. That follows logic — if you trust no one and have no faith, how can one believe in religion?

It’s a dark and ugly path ahead, if we cannot right our collective trajectory.

The challenge, or perhaps the question we must confront, is: Can Americans ever rebuilt trust in one another?

Perhaps the best method is to relax a bit, take a deep breath and realize good people still exist in the world. You just have to look for them.

Our own community is filled with them, but we have to pull our heads out of FaceBook and our eyes away from the TV screens long enough to spot them.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or