Questions of media trust and credibility have been discussed—and researched—since the period between World Wars I and II and the subject is often returned to as new forms of technology and news consumption are developed. However, trust levels, and what people trust, differ in different countries. Part of the reason that trust in the media has received such extensive attention is the widespread view shared by communications scholars and media development practitioners that a well-functioning media is essential to democracy. But the solutions discussion is further complicated because the academic research on media trust—before and since the advent of online media—is fragmented, contradictory, and inconclusive. Further, it is not clear to what extent digital technology –and the loss of traditional signals of credibility—has confused audiences and damaged trust in media and to what extent trust in media is related to worries about globalization, job losses, and economic inequality. Nor is it clear whether trust in one journalist or outlet can be generalized. This makes it difficult to know how to rebuild trust in the media, and although there are many efforts to do so, it is not clear which will work—or whether any will.
Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs comprises more than 70 full-time faculty and more than 200 adjunct faculty, scholars, and practitioners. All have distinguished themselves in research and leadership in the policy world, and have produced scholarship in a wide variety of subjects, including international relations, democratization, elections, demography, and social policy.