Trust in the US Media Is in Free Fall: Poll
Trust in the US Media Is in Free Fall: Poll

By Naveen Athrappully

Trust in media, whether it be traditional or alternate, has declined considerably over the years across all political spheres, according to a recent poll by I&I/TIPP Insights.

To understand the current stance regarding mainstream media, the poll asked, “Generally speaking, how much trust do you have in the traditional or established news media (Example: Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, CBS News, etc.) to report the news accurately and fairly?”

The majority of people surveyed, 54 percent, fell in the distrusting, that is, little to no trust, categories, with 24 percent claiming they have absolutely no trust in the news. Fourteen percent had a lot of trust.

Regarding “alternative media” like The Daily Caller, New York Post, RealClearPolitics, NewsMax, and Washington Times, 62 percent of respondents fell in the distrusting category, with 27 percent having absolutely no trust in what’s reported. Here, 11 percent had a lot of trust.

Most of the people who trust traditional media vote for the Democratic party, while Republicans and independents don’t generally trust these sources to reveal what is happening with accuracy. However, according to I&I analysis, trust levels have gone down for everyone during the past eight months, after President Joe Biden took office.

With a 26 percent decline in traditional media and 24 percent in alternative sources, Republicans lost trust the most. Democrats fell 12 percent on the traditional media trust index and 18 percent in alternate news.

To find out what’s happening around them, 16 percent of Americans turn over to cable news, based on a Pew survey. Fox News ruled the roost when it came to cable for the past 19 years with Tucker Carlson the most-watched cable news show ever.

However, based on the I&I/TIPP poll, many Americans are tuning out cable news because it’s too depressing and a majority are losing their trust in the content. Cable news viewers are more on the older end with the average viewer around 55 years of age. CNN cable has more younger viewers.

To regain trust, TIPP Insights have recommended media organizations to “Focus solely on reporting the news and hard facts rather than shaping a narrative,” “separate journalism from personal political views,” and make sure to tell the viewer the whole story.

Lastly, they have suggested not to invent stories. “It is malpractice of the worst kind.”

The poll also cited a June survey conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford among 92,000 news consumers in 46 countries, which found that the United States fared the worst among G-20 nations for trust in media.

Americans also believed that the media was the driving force behind the increasing division and misinformation in the country.

The I&I/TIPP was conducted between Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, 2021, with a survey size of 1,308 adults.

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