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Public trust in the voices of the private and public sector

At our last H1N1-themed webinar (The H1N1 Outbreak of 2009: Did Officials Cry Wolf), the question came up that there seems to be a growing population of people that do not trust vaccines. This led to the musing that perhaps the issue is not trust in the vaccine but rather a distrust in traditional authority sources and popular media sources. An intriguing line of thought. Dr. Robert Chandler, speaker on the webinar and internationally noted pandemic communication expert, had some thoughts on the issue.

“I believe that there is a growing problem around the issue of public trust in both public and private sector “voices”. Such an erosion of public trust – and the trustworthiness of both government and corporate entities cannot be solved with simply better communication systems and new communication technologies alone. The role and the performance of the mainstream (traditional) journalism media is a worthy area of consideration for how the public perceives or understands these issues and how the “competing” narratives are evaluated or accepted by segments of the general public on such vital issues.

I recently accepted the invitation to join the national board of the (NASBA) Center for the Public Trust, which holds as its mission “to engender and foster confidence and trust in American corporations and institutions and the professions that serve them”. The CPT, though founded by member of the accounting profession in the months after the ENRON disaster, is emerging as a broad based effort to promote consideration and dialogue about these very issues – as well as related topics such as business ethics, accountability, and integrity. One the primary reasons that I have volunteered to be active with the CPT is to see if I might be able to be part of the solution for fostering more open and accountable behavior and communication from public and private sector sources in their relationship with both specific constituents and the general public. If you would like to learn more about the CPT, visit our web page at

I will also be addressing some of (but probably not all of) these issues in a general session address to the DRJ World Conference held here in Orlando next month, focusing on Managing and Sustaining Integrity in public and private sector organizations. I’m sure there will be further discussion of this issue at that address.” Thanks for the comment, Dr. Chandler.

Do you trust the news reported in the traditional media? Were you wary of the H1N1 vaccine because you don’t believe in the communication from the authority figures behind the vaccine? We want to hear your opinion.

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