A recent Gallup poll shows Americans distrust the media more than they have before. Find out why.
By Felix Haynes
It is no secret: metropolitan daily papers are in decline in the United States.
Large newspaper companies filing bankruptcy since December 2008 include The Tribune Company, the Journal-Register Company, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Sun-Times Media Group, among others.
The decline of dailies can be attributed to the rise of television in the 1950s, the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, the growth of cable and satellite TV and social media.
However, community newspapers in small- and medium-sized markets, such as the Plant City Times & Observer, are doing better than dailies. According to a Forbes article, “even amid sinking newspaper valuations and falling revenue from print advertising, smaller clusters of newspapers have found buyers … particularly community newspapers that haven’t lost as many readers or advertisers to the Internet as large metro papers.”
The Gallup Poll recently released its 2016 poll on Trust in Media. The poll reports 32% of Americans say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly. This is the lowest level of trust reported since 1972, when Gallup began polling.
While 51% of Democrats say they trust the media, 70% of Independents and 86% of Republicans have little or no trust.
According to Gallup, “the divisive presidential election this year may be corroding Americans' trust and confidence in the media, particularly among Republicans who may believe the ‘mainstream media’ are too hyperfocused on every controversial statement or policy proposal from Trump while devoting far less attention to controversies surrounding the Clinton campaign.”
But Gallup also attributes the decline in trust to the “explosion of the mass media,” such as vlogs, blogs and social media. Many new media, such as vlogs and blogs, are opinion-based writing. These new media sites may not have strict reporting regulations like the mainstream media does, such as fact checking, cutting out biased, source confirmation and reporting on both sides.
“When opinion-driven writing becomes something like the norm, Americans may be wary of placing trust on the work of media institutions that have less rigorous reporting criteria than in the past,” Gallup reports.
However, as blogs and social media “mature,” they may improve in the American public’s eyes, Gallup said. This could elevate America’s trust and confidence in mass media as a whole.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Wednesday, Sept. 7, to Sunday, Sept. 11, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, ages 18 and older, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.