Half in new survey believe news organizations mislead, misinform public
A new survey found that half of Americans believe that national news organizations intend to mislead, misinform or persuade the public.
More than half of the Americans surveyed, 53 percent, in the Knight Foundation and Gallup poll said they held an unfavorable opinion of the media, which was down slightly from 2020 levels.
“This study suggests that many Americans are not solely skeptical of news today — they feel distrust on an emotional level, believing news organizations intend to mislead them and are indifferent to the social and political impact of their reporting,” the report says.
The poll found that just 35 percent of those surveyed said that they think most national news organizations can be relied on to deliver necessary Information, while 72 percent said they think those organizations have enough resources and opportunities to deliver the information accurately.
More than half of respondents said that they do not think that national news organizations “care about the best interests” of their audience, and just 35 percent said that they think that news organizations care about how their reporting affects society.
However, Americans’ views shifted when asked specifically about local news organizations versus national news organizations.
Fifty-three percent of respondents said that they think that local news organizations care about how their reporting affects society, and 47 percent said that local news organizations “care about the best interests” of their audience.
Most Americans said that local news organizations were reliable to get the information that they need, and 44 percent said that local news organizations do not intend to mislead the public.
Sixty-five percent of Americans also said that they believe local news organizations have enough resources and opportunities to deliver the information they need.
The polling comes as local news outlets are on the decline as local newspapers are closing at an average rate of two per week in the United States, according to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.
Respondents said they have higher levels of emotional trust with local news organizations compared to national news organizations, with those having high emotional trust being more likely to pay to access news in the future, the survey found.
The survey also found that those who report lower levels of emotional trust in national news organizations prefer to get their news from “other” organizations besides the top-20 most-preferred news outlets. Those who prefer to get their news online are also more likely to report low levels of emotional trust in national news organizations, the survey found.
Those who said their top news source is U.S. network news, like ABC, CBS and NBC, are less likely to report low emotional trust in the media, but 45 percent who said their top news source is cable news, like CNN, Fox News or MSNBC, report low emotional trust in national news organizations.
The Knight Foundation and Gallup survey polled 5,593 American adults between May 31 and July 21, 2022. The margin of error is 1.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
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