News ID: 139774
Published: 0224 GMT April 18, 2016

Poll: Vast majority of Americans don't trust news media

Poll: Vast majority of Americans don't trust news media

Trust in the news media is being eroded by perceptions of inaccuracy and bias, fueled in part by Americans' skepticism about what they read on social media.

 

Just six percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public's view of other institutions. In this presidential campaign year, Democrats were more likely to trust the news media than Republicans or independents.

But trust today also goes beyond the traditional journalistic principles of accuracy, balance and fairness.

Faced with ever-increasing sources of information, Americans also are more likely to rely on news that is up-to-date, concise and cites expert sources or documents, according to a study by the Media Insight Project, a partnership of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, Physorg reported.

They want to be able to navigate the news app or website easily and quickly, without having to wade through intrusive or annoying ads.

"The skill set that journalists have to master is bigger," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. That's because the expectations of news consumers have increased.

The poll shows that accuracy clearly is the most important component of trust.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say it's extremely or very important that the media get their facts correct, according to the study. About four in 10 say they can remember a specific incident that eroded their confidence in the media, most often one that dealt with accuracy or a perception that it was one-sided.

The news media have been hit by a series of blunders on high-profile stories ranging from the Supreme Court's 2012 ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law to the Boston Marathon bombing that have helped feed negative perceptions of the media.

In 2014, Rolling Stone had to retract a vivid report about an alleged gang rape at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia. The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, asked by Rolling Stone to investigate after questions were raised about the veracity of the story, called it an avoidable journalistic failure and another shock to journalism's credibility amid head-swiveling change in the media industry.

"The most important thing that news organizations can do is be accurate, and while we know that is a high value, this study reinforces that," said Margaret Sullivan, public editor of The New York Times.

Even if it goes against the competitive push to be first, she said, perhaps there has to be a willingness to wait a little bit to be right."

Readers also are looking for balance: Are there enough sources so they can get a rounded picture of what they are reading? They want transparency, too. "Tell me what you don't know and tell me how you're going about reporting the story," she said.

   
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