Trust, Media and Democracy

"Americans believe the news media have an important role to play in democracy, particularly in terms of informing the public, yet they do not believe the media are fulfilling that role."

- Gallup/Knight Foundation

Trust, Media and Democracy

Results from the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy have just been released. The results show that technology had made it easier for Americans to connect with each other and to find information, but those advances also present both “challenges and opportunities for individuals and U.S. institutions,” according to the report.

“Not only is more information readily available, but so is more misinformation, and many consumers may not be able to easily discern the di erence between the two. Amid the changing informational landscape, media trust in the U.S. has been eroding, making it harder for the news media to ful ll their democratic responsibilities of informing the public and holding government leaders accountable.”

Most Americans “believe it is now harder to be well-informed and to determine which news is accurate. They increasingly perceive the media as biased and struggle to identify objective news sources. They believe the media continue to have a critical role in our democracy but are not very positive about how the media are ful lling that role.”

Medium has a good summary article about the study, 10 Reasons Why American Trust in the Media is at an All-Time Low.

Here are a few key findings that I thought were interesting from the study:

Americans believe the news media have an important role to play in democracy, particularly in terms of informing the public, yet they do not believe the media are fulfilling that role.”

* Eight in 10 U.S. adults believe the news has a critical role to play in our democracy. They feel it is important for the medial to make sure Americans have the knowledge they need to be informed about public affairs and hold leaders accountable. Yet at the same time, they are more like to say the media perform these roles poorly. And “less than half of Americans, 44%, say they can think of a news source that reports the news objectively. Republicans who can name an accurate source overwhelmingly mention Fox News®, while Democrats’ responses are more varied.”

It’s increasingly harder to be a well-informed citizen

* “By 58% to 38%, Americans say it is harder rather than easier to be informed today due to the plethora of information and news sources available.”

Also, only half of Americans believe they are enough sources of information to allow people to cut through bias and sort out the facts in the news–down from 66% a generation ago.

Fact from Fiction

* “Today, 66% of Americans say most news media do not do a good job of separating fact from opinion. In 1984, 42% held this view.”

Fake News

* A majority of U.S. adults consider “fake news” a very serious threat to our democracy.”

* “Four in 10 Republicans consider accurate news stories that cast a politician or political group in a negative light to always be ‘fake news.'”

American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy is a fascinating look into how we view and trust the news today. I encourage anyone with an interest in democracy or the media to download the PDF and read the entire report.

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