The folks at Gallup have been surveying everything about American society for decades. One advantage to that is tracking how people think about key issues over time. This June, when they asked about people’s confidence in newspapers, the numbers hit an all-time low. Television News wasn’t far behind, ranking just one point above newspapers.
Sadly, nobody seems very surprised by these numbers.
Both mediums ranked better than only “Big Business” and “Congress,” which held on to the bottom to rankings. In fact, every institution measured has dropped except for Military (no change), Medical Systems (+1), and the Presidency (+3). Big Business stayed neutral, but ranked at second to the bottom throughout the survey periods. Congress stayed right at the bottom of the list.
Despite the declining percentages of Americans having high confidence in these institutions, the majority have at least “some” confidence in all but one of them. Congress has the ignominious distinction of being the only institution sparking little or no confidence in a majority of Americans. — Gallup June 2016
Since 2006, Americans have lost confidence in 10 of those 14 institutions, with six suffering substantial losses. Banks had the biggest drop off, losing 22 points, followed by churches or organized religion at -11. Both institutions have seen increased media scrutiny over the decade.
For media, over half of Americans express some level of confidence, but the percentage expressing a high level of confidence is down in the low 20’s. The percentage with low confidence is now close to twice that rate.
Newspapers Lose Vote of Confidence from Young Adults, Democrats
This reflects a downturn in confidence that cuts across all age groups and party lines. Young adults and Democrats, who typically have shown solid positive marks for confidence in papers have now gone the other direction. It’s the first time in Gallup’s surveys that more Democrats had low or no confidence rather than quite a bit or great deal of confidence in newspapers.
While the numbers were higher — and the question was asked differently — a 2015 Pew study shows similar results.
The view of news in general has become more negative.
Journalists are charged with being the gatekeepers and the watchdogs, holding our institutions, government, and politicans accountable.
But, A recent poll by Frank N. Magid also shows the credibility of the news media is at an all-time low.
38% can recall a specific recent incident that caused them to lose trust in a news source. The two most common problems were either instances of perceived bias or inaccuracies. — Frank N. Magid Survey