How Much Do Americans Trust The Media?
How Much Do Americans Trust The Media?

Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point in six years.

Gallup began its survey on media trust in 1972, repeating it in 1974 and 1976. After a long period, the public opinion firm restarted the polls in 1997 and has asked Americans about their confidence level in the mass media – newspapers, TV, and radio – almost every year since then.

Visual Capitalist’s Bruno Venditti and Sam Parker illustrates Gallup’s latest poll results, conducted in September 2023, in the graphic below:

How Much Do Americans Trust The Media?

Americans’ Trust in Mass Media, 1972-2023

Americans’ confidence in the mass media has sharply declined over the last few decades.

Trust in the mass media % Great deal/Fair amount % Not very much % None at all
1972 68 24 6
1974 69 21 8
1976 72 22 4
1997 53 31 15
1998 55 35 9
1999 55 34 11
2000 51 37 12
2001 53 33 14
2002 54 35 11
2003 54 35 11
2004 44 39 16
2005 50 37 12
2007 47 35 17
2008 43 35 21
2009 45 37 18
2010 43 36 21
2011 44 36 19
2012 40 39 21
2013 44 33 22
2014 40 36 24
2015 40 36 24
2016 32 41 27
2017 41 29 29
2018 45 30 24
2019 41 30 28
2020 40 27 33
2021 36 29 34
2022 34 28 38
2023 32 29 39

In 2016, the number of respondents trusting media outlets fell below the tally of those who didn’t trust the media at all. This is the first time that has happened in the poll’s history.

That year was marked by sharp criticism of the media from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In 2017, the use of the term ‘fake news’ rose by 365% on social media, and the term was named the word of the year by dictionary publisher Collins.

The Lack of Faith in Institutions and Social Media

Although there’s no single reason to explain the decline of trust in the traditional media, some studies point to potential drivers.

According to Michael Schudson, a sociologist and historian of the news media and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, in the 1970s, faith in institutions like the White House or Congress began to decline, consequently impacting confidence in the media.

“That may have been a necessary corrective to a sense of complacency that had been creeping in—among the public and the news media—that allowed perhaps too much trust: we accepted President Eisenhower’s lies about the U-2 spy plane, President Kennedy’s lies about the ‘missile gap,’ President Johnson’s lies about the war in Vietnam, President Nixon’s lies about Watergate,”

MICHAEL SCHUDSON – COLUMBIA JOURNALISM SCHOOL

More recently, the internet and social media have significantly changed how people consume media. The rise of platforms such as X/Twitter and Facebook have also disrupted the traditional media status quo.

Partisans’ Trust in Mass Media

Historically, Democrats have expressed more confidence in the media than Republicans.

Democrats’ trust, however, has fallen 12 points over the past year to 58%, compared with 11% among Republicans and 29% among independents.

According to Gallup, Republicans’ low confidence in the media has little room to worsen, but Democrat confidence could still deteriorate and bring the overall national reading down further.

The poll also shows that young Democrats have less confidence in the media than older Democrats, while Republicans are less varied in their views by age group.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 12/03/2023 – 20:30

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