New Data Reveals Just How Much Americans Distrust the Media Today


Trust in the media is at an all-time low, according to a new Gallup poll. It's the product of a decade-long decline in confidence that puts news outlets in the same league as "big business" and "the healthcare system" when it comes to public faith.

Among media, newspapers do best — 22% of respondents said they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence. Though that's down from its peak of 51% in 1979. Internet news comes in second at 19%, which isn't too far off from its 21% confidence figure in 1999. Television news brings up the rear at 18%, down from a 46% peak in 1993.

Political distinctions: The results of the survey differ significantly depending on the political affiliations of the respondents. Liberals, for instance, give newspapers a 34% confidence rating, compared to just 15% of conservatives. TV news goes the opposite way — only 15% of liberals trust what anchors tell them, compared to 18% of conservatives (and 19% of moderates).

Image Credit: Gallup

Interestingly enough, a Gallup survey last year revealed that television is by far Americans' main source of news, with more than half of respondents saying that's how they get most of their information about current events. 21% said they get most of their news from the Internet, while just 9% said they get most of their information from print newspapers, seemingly the most trustworthy source. (It should be noted that many people who say they read most of their news online may get much of it from the sites and social media feeds of newspapers themselves.)

Better than Congress: While newspapers beat out big business (21%) when it comes to confidence, Internet and TV news are next-to-last on the list. The biggest loser here is Congress, which earned the faith of just 7% of Americans.

Image Credit: Gallup

At the top of Gallup's list of institutions is the military, sitting pretty at 74%. Small business is next at 62%, and the police came in a distant third at 53%. (Gallup does not specify, so we can only assume more than half of Americans put their faith in this.)

How can media try and turn this crisis of confidence around? Well, if you turn on CNN and see the news is being hosted by a four-star general and your local pizzeria owner, you'll know who to blame.