Gallup Poll Finds Continuing Mistrust of Newspapers, Television News

Lymari Morales at Gallup reports that confidence in the news media remains low. Remember when they suggest high negatives for politicians, they are hardly popular, either. They're "on par with Americans' lackluster confidence in banks and slightly better than their dismal rating of Health Management Organizations and big business." The report began:

Americans continue to express near-record-low confidence in newspapers and television news -- with no more than 25% of Americans saying they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in either. These views have hardly budged since falling more than 10 percentage points from 2003-2007....

The decline in trust since 2003 is also evident in a 2009 Gallup poll that asked about confidence and trust in the "mass media" more broadly. While perceptions of media bias present a viable hypothesis, Americans have not over the same period grown any more likely to say the news media are too conservative or too liberal.

One of the ironies of Gallup's annual Confidence in Institutions survey is that young Americans express the most trust in newspapers -- while they're the least likely to read them. That certainly paints a picture of blind trust:  

Confidence is hard to find, even among Democrats and liberals, who have historically been the most trusting of the news media. While 18- to 29-year-olds express more trust in newspapers than most older Americans, Gallup polling has found they read national newspapers the least. Younger Americans also expressed more confidence than older Americans in several other institutions tested, including Congress, the medical system, and the criminal justice system, suggesting younger Americans are more confident in institutions in general.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this survey comes in the chart. If you look at 1993 and compare it to 2010, newspapers haven't fallen too far, from 31 percent with "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence then to 25 percent now. But television news has fallen much harder: from 46 percent in 1993 to 22 percent now.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis