When speaking about trust, journalists probably understand better than everyone else its importance. After all, trust is essential for the relationship between journalism and the general public. On the other hand, journalism itself plays a major role in the process of trust building. What we must not forget, however, is that trust comes in various forms and circumstances starting from individual relationships to trusting organizations and trust within society as a whole. Moreover, we could say that trust within society is that ingredient that enables its normal functioning and moving forward. For this reason, throughout the entire existence of humanity, trust has continuously proven to be the cornerstone of all successful human interactions in all fields of life (family, society, economy, politics, and so on).
Why do we need trust?
According to numerous studies in this field, we need trust every time we lack the complete information or control of a certain situation. It is exactly the piece of information we lack that we fill with the trust that certain individuals or other elements of society will act according to certain standards. In other words, without trust we would be confined to only our firsthand experiences. So, it is none other than trust that enables us to come to contact with information, opinions, knowledge, actions, events and other topics that span beyond the reach of our experiences. If the public would not trust the news, then, how would he get to know about the development of a conflict in a different country or continent; or how would the public learn about the adoption of new laws and amendment of existing ones and their impact in everyday life.
Trust is the first victim of any conflict
In fact, we may claim that trust is the first victim of any conflict. Unfortunately, we are the best proof to this. After half a century of peacefully living together, former neighbors started seeing each other in distrust. During the last twenty years, first as a journalist and then as head of print section in KFOR, part of which is Magazine ‘For You’, I have had the opportunity to witness the positive changes in our society as a result of trust rebuilding. The most specific example is freedom of movement during the past two decades. During this time, starting from colleagues in my office to the city of Mitrovica, the situation has changed drastically. Twenty years ago, even the simplest actions such as going to work were an adventure. Today, the same colleagues have no issues; they even often use public transportation.
I mentioned freedom of movement because I am convinced that it is closely connected to trust building. Twenty years ago, among many problems citizens of Kosovo, regardless of their age, gender, religion or ethnicity, faced was lack of trust. Members of one ethnicity saw suspiciously other ethnicities. They were afraid, because they knew almost nothing about each other and they were not ready to risk getting hurt by trusting the other side. However, once information started flowing and knowledge about each other increased the trust level started to grow gradually.
A cheating scientist cannot destroy the trust in science
Another aspect of trust that I would highlight is that trust in our individual relationships differs a lot from the trust in an organization or the entire society. In individual relationships we give a lot of importance to the past behaviors of the person in front of us. However, in relation to the trust in society we should not forget that the behavior of certain individuals may impact in our trust towards the institution, organization or society they are part of but, they cannot destroy completely the trust in them. A cheating scientist cannot serve to destroy the trust in science itself.
From what I have said above, and I am sure from our personal experiences as well, it is clear that trust is not fixed but, it rather swings from one side to the other. In other words, trust can be strengthened or weakened and consequently our mutual relationships experience the same swings. It is therefore necessary that we continuously work in building but also maintaining the trust, because as the old proverb says: “Trust comes walking but, leaves running”.
This project is supported by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and is implemented by the New Social Initiative. Expressed opinions represent the authors’ views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, UNMIK or New Social Initiative.