Media & Journalism: Why Trust Matters

In 2009, I wrote a book titled Distrust, American Style. In it, I looked at the issue of trust through the lens of social capital scholarship. Trust and reciprocity are essential to social capital–and especially to the creation of “bridging” social capital, the relationships that allow us to connect with and value people different from ourselves. I didn’t address an issue that I […]

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Fake News and the Big Lie

fake news and the big lie

A few days ago, Vox reported that: Attacks on the “fake news” media have become a staple of the Trump administration — and nearly half of voters, including the vast majority of Republicans, believe the president when he claims that the media is making up stories about him. Forty-six percent of voters believe that major news organizations fabricate stories about Trump, while 37 […]

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Less Trust, More Conspiracy: the Politics of Bias

confirmation bias - conspiracy theories versus the truth

“People say” was the way our embarrassing President-elect introduced bizarre conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or others who had offended him in some fashion. No evidence. No factual basis. In most cases, no plausibility. The question rational people asked–and still ask–is “why would anyone believe that?” Because clearly, many did. A recent report from Journalists’ Resource offered an answer, or at […]

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The Roots of Distrust

distrust & diversity

In 2009, I wrote a book called Distrust, American Style. The impetus for that book was publication–and widespread discussion–of a study in which Robert Putnam found that neighborhoods with greater diversity had higher levels of social distrust, and concluded that diversity–living among people who looked or talked or prayed differently– caused discomfort and distrust. I didn’t disagree with his basic facts–his finding […]

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Why Nobody Trusts Anything They Read Anymore

[Originally published at on April 28, 2015] Newsweek recently ran an article arguing that wind power really costs more than people think. The story’s italicized tagline identified the author thusly: “Randy Simmons is professor of political economy at Utah State University.” A respectable (and presumably reliable) credential. As the Daily Kos reported, however, The Erik Wemple Blog yesterday asked Simmons whether […]

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Trust, City Life–and a Meditation on Branding

By Sheila Kennedy [Originally published at on October 20, 2014] One blog I follow is CityScope–an ongoing conversation about urban life and innovation around the globe. A recent post there focused on one of my preoccupations, the importance of trust in building social capital and facilitating city life, from a fresh perspective.   Obviously, trust has always been a social dynamic in […]

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