US Adults’ Trust in Mass Media Plunges to Another Low

September 22, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Media & Entertainment | Youth & Gen X

gallup-us-adults-trust-mass-media-2001-2016-sept2016Only about 1 in 3 American adults trust the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly, according to a new Gallup survey. That’s the lowest level in the history of this Gallup survey, which has been fielded annually since 1997 and stretches back to 1972. This year’s figure represents a precipitous 8-point drop from last year’s low point.

That’s the largest drop since confidence fell from 54% of respondents in 2003 to 44% in 2004. Indeed, this year almost as many adults said they have no trust and confidence in the media at all (27%) than said they have a fair amount (24%) or great deal (8%) combined.

The Gallup analysts note that this year’s election may be to blame, as Republicans’ trust (combination of “a great deal” and “a fair amount”) plunged from 32% last year to 14% this year. By comparison, 51% of Democrats (down from 55% last year) expressed trust and confidence in the media, as did 30% of independents (down from 33% last year).

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Trust in the media also fell across age groups, dropping to 26% among those aged 18-49 (from 36% last year) and to 38% among adults aged 50 and older (from 45% last year). The last time that young adults showed more trust in the mass media than older adults was in 2010, per Gallup’s historical data, while the 12-point gap this year is the largest so far this century.

Younger adults’ diminished trust – relative to their older counterparts – is supported by separate research from the Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In that survey, just 10% of 18-29-year-olds professed to trusting the information from the national media a lot, compared to 24% of adults aged 65 and older.

Previous research from Pew has shown that Millennials’ perception of the national news media has shrunk much more rapidly than have other age groups’ perceptions.

About the Data: Gallup describes its methodology as follows:

“Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 7-11, 2016, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.”

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