Distrust - trust

We’ve all heard that people don’t trust the media anymore.  Heck, I’m in the media and I view everything through a skeptic’s lens these days.  Through it all though, one media source continues to do better than all the others:

Local TV news operations.

The numbers for all media sources have plummeted to historic lows. An August poll of 2,040 people from Civic Science reports that the vast majority of people responding don’t trust any media.  But, of the media choices, the most trusted source for news is Local TV News.

43% still trust some form of media, but it’s fragmented to various sources.

Those who trust Local News

Those who do say they trust Local TV News, according to Civic Science, are more likely to be women and parents.  They are concerned about crime/violence and care about religion.

When asked where they turn for breaking news – unbiased – the overwhelming choice was a Local TV news channel.


Those who trust national newspapers

Less likely to be religious and more likely to live in the south, this group is concerned with national security and the deficit.  Before you say redneck (disclosure:  I live in Alabama now), they also are among the most educated group in the survey.

Those who trust cable News

People who trust Cable Network News read political websites and blogs. The majority of them fit into the broad category of students, homemakers, or those who are retired. They are also more likely to be grandparents. – Annette Bradley, Civic Science

Those who trust Broadcast Network News

Civic Science says they are more likely to be city dwellers and the majority are retired, homemakers, or students and concerned about income equality and environmental issues.  Oh, and they like the NHL.  Weird right?

Those who approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as President are 5x as likely to answer Broadcast Network news. – Annette Bradley, Civic Science

Those who trust digital news sites

This group is more likely to rent their homes.  This group also had the largest numbers of people that said they were unemployed compared to any other group.  People in the group are twice as likely to read political websites and blogs .

They are more likely to believe that their personal financial situation will stay the same over the next 6 months. Not a good outlook for the large group that is unemployed. – Annette Bradley, Civic Science

Those who trust social media

According to the study, they don’t like people who don’t have the same world view.  We’ve all seen first hand how somebody that post something political seems to get just crushed in the comments from people with a different view.

It’s been one of my big worries about customization in media.  The more you can “tailor” what you see and read, the less you are exposed to different viewpoints and diversity of ideas.

I found it very surprising that 66% of these people say they do not enjoy interacting with people whose opinions are different from their own. – Annette Bradley, Civic Science

People don’t expect it to get better

And maybe one of the most telling parts of the survey is that 67% don’t think it’s going to get any better, including 16% that think it’s only going to get worse.



Gallup Polls

The Civic Science poll isn’t alone.  One of the country’s leading consumer research companies show TV news and newspapers are now near the bottom and show some of the biggest losses in this June 2016 Gallup poll on confidence.  Always nice, he said sarcastly, to be thought of in the same category as banks and congress these days.


Newspapers have seen a huge shift as well, and not for the better.


What can the news media do to rebuild trust?

Annette Bradley of Civic Science suggests the trust factor goes hand in hand with bias and commentary.  She posits that more just-the-facts and letting people make up their own mind would help.  Hard to argue with that isn’t it?

Well, they might want to take a look at the news media that has garnered the highest trust level and that is local TV news. Equally interesting is that local TV news is also the top choice among those who trust some news media for where they go first for breaking news and comes in a strong second for those who don’t trust any news media. – Annette Bradley, Civic Science