THE GIG IS UP

Only 6% of Americans trust the media – survey

© Peter Morgan

As accusations of bias fly during an election year, a new report
shows that Americans have serious misgivings about the media, with only
six percent saying they have “a great deal of confidence” in the press.

A survey of more than
2,000 adults released on Sunday showed that trust in the media has
dipped to dramatically low levels. About 52 percent of respondents said
they have “some confidence” in the press, while 41 percent said they have “hardly any confidence.”
“Over the last two decades, research shows the public has grown increasingly skeptical of the news industry,” the report from the American Press Institute reads. “The
study reaffirms that consumers do value broad concepts of trust like
fairness, balance, accuracy, and completeness. At least two-thirds of
Americans cite each of these four general principles as very important
to them.”

According
to the study, most people couldn’t name a specific instance that
damaged their confidence in the media, but about 40 percent could
remember a case, generally involving a report that turned out to be
inaccurate or was perceived as biased, which caused them to lose their
trust.
“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,”
Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, told the Associated Press.
The
most essential quality for media institutions is accuracy, with 85
percent of respondents saying it’s extremely or very important for them
to get the facts straight. Seventy-six percent said that timeliness is
critical.
While social media has changed the way many people
encounter news, it’s not necessarily for the better. Although 87 percent
said they receive news via Facebook, for example, only 12 percent said
they trust it “a lot or a great deal.” The social network with the highest trust rating was LinkedIn, and even then the level confidence was only 23 percent.

While
the report didn’t point out any specific recent instances that have led
to the erosion in public trust, the AP pointed to a Rolling Stone
article on a campus rape that received widespread coverage in the US,
but ultimately had to be retracted. It also highlighted inaccurate
reports on the Supreme Court’s first ruling upholding Obamacare.
There
have also been accusations of biased coverage of the current
presidential campaigns, especially with respect to outsider candidates
such as Donald Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
The
American Press Institute report comes in the wake of a September 2015
Gallup poll which found that only 7 percent of Americans have a great
deal of trust in the media, with about 33 percent saying they had a fair
amount, and 60 percent claiming they had either little or no trust in
the media.

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