‘Fool me once, shame on you’: Direct personal experience and media trust

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the issue of citizens’ declining trust in journalists has received much attention in both research and public discourse, relatively little research has examined how individuals’ evaluations of the accuracy of media coverage of events they witnessed personally may have long-term effects on the level of trust in journalists. Using the responses of Israeli adults (n = 405) to an online survey, this study explored various predictors of public trust in journalists and found that perceived correspondence between direct personal experience and news reports was the strongest predictor of trust in journalists and the only one that remained significant when controlling for all other factors. In addition, general levels of public trust in journalists were found to be in small decline. These findings suggest that declining levels of trust in journalists may be associated with actual evaluations of the quality of media performance by individuals, thus refocusing the question of trust on journalistic practice rather than on audience attributes. At the same time, the fact that personal and possibly anecdotal evidence may have significant long-term effects on audience levels of trust is potentially problematic from a democratic standpoint. We discuss the implications and limitations of our findings.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)684-698
Number of pages15
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2018


  • Democracy
  • Israel
  • journalists
  • media
  • trust

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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