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Ex-Anchor Lewis: Explosion of New Media May Foster Mistrust

Monday, 23 Jun 2014 03:39 PM

By Jennifer Hickey

The explosion of traditional and new media may be contributing to a continuing decline of trust in news media platforms, says communications expert and former television news anchor Lena Lewis.

"It might be fair to say that people gravitate to what makes them feel comfortable in an interpretation of a story and when they hear it on another station that perhaps doesn't reflect that, that might cultivate some mistrust and they say, 'You know what I don't agree with that so I'm going to go to this particular news source,'" Lewis told MidPoint host Ed Berliner Monday on Newsmax TV.

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That mistrust is reflected in a June Gallup poll that found only 22 percent of the public have confidence in major news sources —  a steady decline from a peak of 51 percent in 1979.

The erosion of trust is not terribly surprising to Lewis.

"It was Mark Twain who said those who don't read the paper are uninformed and those who do are misinformed so this is a concept of theory that's been perpetrated for a very long time and as even the Gallup poll mentioned in their report, this is a question they've been asking for a long time as well and they've seen that erosion," she remarked adding that it might simply be a consequence of the "evolution of news" and the multiplicity of sources.

As more consumers of the news go to sources which reflect their own values and ideology, media outlets increasingly cater their coverage to their audience, and are thus less focused on "just the facts" reporting.

"Let's face it, these outlets these days don't make it a secret of where they're coming from. You know, everybody knows if you want to get conservative news where you tune into, if you want to get a liberal viewpoint, people know what station to tune in," asserted Lewis, who added that there is no "effort to tell a balanced story."

Lewis does not absolve the public of responsibility for the growing mistrust by not actively questioning the sourcing of stories or independently researching the assertions made in news stories.

"We may be to the point now where people can't just take everything as a given and like you said, do a little research, ask some questions this might be actually good for us because people may start thinking for themselves again and say, 'You know what that reporter said that, but let me double check and let me do some research," observed Lewis, who once worked for CNN.

In the end, Lewis says the lack of faith in the news may result in more independent thinking among viewers and readers and "it might be good for society in general to just start thinking on their own and maybe this will be what triggers it."

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