Gallup: Americans Confidence in News Media 'At or Tied With Record Lows'

Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 10:30 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Americans have grown increasingly distrustful of the media, with confidence in the three major platforms – newspapers, television news and the Internet – being "at or tied with records lows," according to a recent Gallup poll.

As a whole, Americans have the least confidence in Internet news, with just more than 18 percent trusting it, according to the poll results. Confidence in television news is about a percentage point higher, while newspapers lead the group with just 21 percent having confidence in their publications.

"Confidence in newspapers has declined by more than half since its 1979 peak of 51 percent, while TV news has seen confidence ebb from its high of 46 percent in 1993," according to a Gallup statement.

When the survey broke down the categories by political ideology, the results were more telling.

Just 15 percent of self-identified conservatives reported "a great deal or quite a lot of confidence" in newspapers, compared with 34 percent of liberals and 24 percent of moderates.

Newspapers may not even be a category in the near future, according to Gallup, which notes that "the circulation of newspapers continues to shrink to the point that University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for the Digital Future estimates that most print newspapers will not exist in five years."

Television news, which "continues to see a proliferation of new cable news networks, including the launch of Al-Jazeera America in August 2013," according to Gallup, fares even worse, with only 15 percent of liberals and 19 percent of conservatives expressing confidence in the medium. These figures represent an 11-point drop for liberals in just the past year, according to Gallup.

The Internet, a relatively recent news source, is today a major player in "the average American's news diet," Gallup said in the statement.

Liberals and moderates have more confidence in Internet news than their conservative counterparts, Gallup said, with the former coming in at 22 percent apiece and the latter at just 17 percent.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote that Gallup’s poll is troubling because it shows that Americans are looking to get their news only from sources they agree with politically, "leading to the idea that people with whom you disagree are not simply looking at the world differently but rather are, at best, stupid, at worst, and evil."

"That is a very, very bad thing for our political discourse in this country," Cillizza said. "And, given the trend lines on trust in the media (read: downward), things only look to get worse."

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