Is Americans’ distrust of the media increasing under the current administration, which coined the term “fake news”? What about in the era of shrinking newsrooms across the U.S.?
According to the 2019 Poynter Media Trust Survey, apparently not. People’s trust in the media has remained fairly consistent. What has changed is that Americans place a higher level of trust in their local media over national media. Americans were more likely to choose articles from local news sources than ones from online-only national outlets (11% higher). Also, 40% of Americans in the study believe that major news organizations fabricate news stories “once in a while.”
That said, a 2019 study by Gallup showed a slightly different picture, finding that 41% of Americans mistrust the mass media, up from 32% in 2016. Another Gallup study showed that 61% say the news media ignores important stories. While it didn’t provide a rationale for why Americans believe this, one could surmise that it’s because there are fewer reporters to cover stories and incredible pressure for those reporters to generate “clicks” on their coverage, leading to a tendency for salacious coverage to drive those clicks.
Where and how are people consuming news?
In another Pew Research Center report, 55% of U.S. adults now get their news from social media either “often” or “sometimes.” The same report showed that 88% of Americans believe social media companies now have at least some control over the mix of the news that people see each day, and 62% said this was a problem. And for those Americans who rely on social media for their news, 52% turn to Facebook, 28% rely on YouTube, then Twitter at 17% and Instagram at 14%.
Finally, as marketing communications professionals who conduct media outreach on behalf of clients, are there media outlets that are considered more trustworthy and balanced than others? As mentioned above, there’s a greater trust in local versus national media, but some are turning to a non-partisan news source called AllSides, which claims to expose bias in the media and provide multiple perspectives on issues. If you’re curious, AllSides has rated the bias of nearly 600 media outlets and writers.
For more on this topic, read LOCAL MEDIA MORE TRUSTED THAN NATIONAL MEDIA and FAKE NEWS VS. REAL NEWS – HOW CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE?