"The reason why trust in the media is almost at an all-time low," explained Mark Melling, head of RYOT Studio EMEA, Verizon Media, "is because it’s harder for individuals to distinguish between what is trustworthy content and what isn’t."
Melling was speaking at RYOT Festival: The Future of Storytellers, an event showcasing the storytelling capabilities of immersive tech delivered by 5G. The event also explored the burning question of the moment: why do consumers and advertisers trust the media industry less than at any time in recent history – and what can the industry do about it?
"For me, it’s lack of transparency and, very importantly, the rise of fake news," says Anna Watkins, UK managing director of Verizon Media. "These sources should be very, very reliable and offer objective opinion."
More than one participant identified a lack of common understanding between the media and those it serves as being the root of the current malaise.
"We need transparency from the industry," said Lisbeth Meng Collignon, senior director marketing excellence, Velux. "That’s the most essential part. Tell us the truth about how we’re performing and that’s good."
Shakira Akinjobi, content director at Wavemaker, added: "If we can communicate openly about what we want and collaborate to make sure it happens, that will inspire trust in the media."
Trust and transparency are not relevant only to media sales – an issue brought to the fore by advertisers’ concerns with the effectiveness of the digital supply chain – but also to the industry’s relationship with the public. "There’s a lack of trust in sources," said Watkins, "a lack of trust in what should be reliable and objective media."
"We have to learn from the lessons of the first digital transformation," said Melling, "and not make the same mistakes twice. We need to be able to trust digital and social platforms, the same way we need to be able to trust our neighbour next door."
Watkins did have optimism: "I’m hopeful about trust coming back in the industry… We are united and want to ensure that trust is paramount for the greater good of the industry as well as our consumers."
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