TRUST in the British press is the lowest in 33 countries in Europe, with a European Commission survey giving it a net rating of minus 60 – behind Spain, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Malta and North Macedonia, which was second bottom of the table with minus 36.

The UK has languished in bottom place for nine of the last 10 years in the Eurobarometer survey of Trust in the Written Press, for which around 1000 face-to-face interviews are carried out in each country.

Its latest rating was down from minus 24 in 2018.

The average rating for the EU28 countries was a comparatively respectable -1.

At the other end of the scale, Albania came top with a net trust rating of 55, followed by the Netherlands (48), Finland (47), Luxembourg (36) and Belgium (27).

The results of the poll were released last week, not that you would notice if you happen to be a reader of any of the mainstream papers.

Brian Cathcart, author and professor of journalism at Kingston University and co-founder of the Hacked Off campaign, tweeted: “This is a huge annual survey by @EurobarometerEU across 33 countries. It’s the ninth year out of the past ten that the UK has been last. We have a problem.”

Writing on the RT website, journalist, broadcaster and blogger Neil Clark said the results were hardly surprising given that so many journalists these days “have become mere stenographers for, or lackeys of, the Establishment power elites”. Clark was clear where at least some of the blame lay: “I’ve got a collection of old newspapers and magazines dating back several decades.

“Part of the problem is that newspapers have morphed into viewspapers.

“The distinction between reporting and comment has been blurred.

“Back in the 70s, leading publications only had one comment piece and an editorial. Their pages were packed with news items, with stories reported factually and without a ‘bent’.”

Clark said that “comment” had taken over from news, but while there was no shortage of opinion, most of it was “saying very much the same thing”.

The survey did not identify publications or separate the Scottish press, but a spokesperson for the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Scotland told The National: “While it is extremely disappointing to see the UK press at the bottom of this poll, the findings do not match with the results of the poll published by YouGov at the end of April.

“Across the UK, thousands of hard-pressed, dedicated, professional journalists work every day to ensure their reports are accurate. Despite public perception, almost all UK journalists work ethically and are conscientious about the quality of their work.

“Knowing something about the difficulties faced by journalists in Albania, I am surprised to see that country’s press at the top of the table.

“I hope journalists will interrogate this finding relatively quickly.”