U.S. News


Gallup Poll: More Americans Mistrust Local And National Media

Growing misinformation online and on social media is creating an environment ripe for mistrust.
Posted at 2:53 PM, Jan 26, 2022

According to a recent poll, just 24% of Americans trust TV anchors, and journalists as a whole don't rank much better at 26%.  

 So, what changed? 

Let's start by understanding how trust works. We trust people and institutions we're close to. 

Polling shows Americans have more trust in their local government than their state government, and more trust in their state government than those at the federal level.  

The more local, the more trusted. The same goes for news.  

A Knight Foundation and Gallup poll found Americans trust local news more than national news. But recently , Americans are getting less local news.  

Almost 1,800 newspapers have closed since 2004, and less local news means a disconnect between media and consumers. 

But too much news can be a problem, too.  

While print news has dropped off, options for news on TV have exploded.  

The days of the "big three" in TV news are gone, that means more networks competing for eyeballs.  

That's led to networks increasingly catering to niche  audiences, creating a partisan divide. 

A poll from the Pew Research Center shows nearly 8 in 10 Democrats say they have a lot or some trust in national media. Just 35% of Republicans agree.  

Republicans mistrust local news more, too, but each is more trusting of certain outlets.  

Take the New York Times, for example: 53% of Democrats trust it, while 6% don't. 

15% of Republicans trust The Times, compared to 42% who don't. 

The numbers flip for an outlet like Fox: 65% of Republicans trust it. Just 19% don't. 23% of Democrats trust it, and 61% don't.  

Couple partisan divides with growing misinformation online and on social media, and  it creates an environment ripe for mistrust. 

But those who follow media closely say it's a problem the industry is working to fix.  

Lee Rainie, from the Pew Research Center, offers an optimistic view.  

"The charge to people who are in the thick of this new environment is to figure out how to help people find their way to the truth and not make it a hard job. Americans couldn't be clearer about that. They want to know what is going on, and they want help doing it and they are looking to journalists to help solve these problems."