Majority of Americans express distrust of media, find reporting bias

A majority of Americans say they have little or no trust in the media to report news fully, accurately and fairly, according to the findings of a new Gallup poll.

The Gallup findings, released Sept. 29, reveal that 57 percent express lack of confidence or outright disbelief in media reporting, while 43 percent report having a great deal or a fair amount of trust in media reporting. According to Gallup, the percentage of those with confidence ties an all-time low and is significantly lower than the 72 percent who said they were confident in media reporting in 1976.

Forty-eight percent also told Gallup that the media are too liberal; 15 percent said too conservative. A third said media coverage was neither, but rather just about right.

Factors like income, age and education played into views of the media. According to Gallup, lower-income, less-educated people trust the media in general. Trust declined, however, among those 18 to 29 years old, those making at least $75,000 annually and college graduates, the research organization found.

In summing up its findings, Gallup pointed out that there is a bit of a silver lining for media organizations. While distrust of the media has remained relatively steady, the confidence of Americans in other institutions, such as government, has fallen hard this year. “Thus in an environment in which few institutions elicit high levels of trust, it appears the media are neither gaining nor losing significant ground, but are just managing to hold steady,” Gallup said in a summation of the findings.

The Gallup results are based on a telephone survey of 1019 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, conducted with a random sample Sept. 13-16.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.