US Adults’ Trust in Mass Media Dips

October 31, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Industries | Media & Entertainment | Youth & Gen X

Only about two-fifths (41%) of American adults trust the mass media, dropping from 45% last year to match the same percentage as in 2017, per survey results from Gallup. Although trust has wavered somewhat this year after improving in 2018, it remains higher than in 2016 when it reached an all-time low of 32%.

The percentage of Americans who have a “great deal” of confidence and trust in the mass media when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly, has remained relatively steady for the past 3 years, standing at just over 1 in 8 (13%) adults this year.

Last year, more than three-quarters (76%) of Democrats surveyed said they trusted mass media a “great deal” or a “fair amount,” which was the highest level in the 20 years that Gallup has been sorting by party affiliation. This year, though, the percentage of Democrats who have that level of trust in mass media has dropped to 69%.

Similarly, trust in the mass media among Independents had appeared to be on the rise last year (42%) only to fall again in 2019 (36%). Republicans also seemed to lose confidence in the media, dropping to 15% this year after rising to 21% in 2018. This year’s figure is near the 20-year low of 14% seen in 2016 and 2017, which corresponded with President Trump’s criticism of the media’s coverage of him.

When it comes to trust in the media, it’s not only political ideology that is a factor, but age as well. Only just more than one-third (36%) of 18-34-year-olds trust the media, compared to about half (47%) of respondents 55 years old and older. Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) of 35-54-year-olds also trust the media at least a fair amount.

At a global level, separate research by Edelman has found that just under half of people say they trust the media, but unlike Gallup’s US view, this percentage has risen slightly since last year.

Further data from Gallup can be accessed here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey conducted in September 2019 among 1,525 US adults ages 18 and older.

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