Newspaper and TV News Trusted More Than Online Sources

December 29, 2016

Fresh off the heels of research suggesting that adults trust traditional media ads more than digital ones, a study from YouGov [pdf] indicates that Americans are more likely to trust news that they read about in the newspaper or see on TV than they are to trust what they read online. (The irony of this news being published online is not lost on us.)

Overall, 78% of the adults surveyed said that they trust the news that they read about in the newspaper either a lot (25%) or a little (53%), while a similar 77% say the same about the news they see on TV. Although a strong majority (72%) say they trust the news that they find on the internet, that includes only 12% who trust this news a lot.

The news source that adults trust the most? Their friends and family: 84% overall said they trust the news that their friends and family tell them about, including 32% who have a lot of trust.

Recent research from Gallup, meanwhile, finds that US adults’ trust in mass media has plunged to another all-time low this year.

The dimmer results for news found online might be expected after discussion of fake news proliferating on Facebook during the election. Although American adults feel confident in determining the trustworthiness of information found online, studies suggest that they have a hard time discerning fake news from, well, the truth…

Still, more than 7 in 10 (72%) adults responding to the YouGov survey said that they trust the news that their friends and family share on Facebook. That may be related more to trust in friends and family than in Facebook, however, given the above-mentioned results.

Looking at how some of the demographic groups responded, the study indicates that:

  • News read about in the newspaper is trusted considerably ore by 45-64-year-olds (82%) than 18-29-year-olds (69%), and more so by Democrats (85%) than Republicans (73%), while there’s not much variance when sorting by race/ethnicity or income;
  • Women (82%) tend to hold more trust in news seen on TV than men (73%), while 45-64-year-olds, Black Americans, Democrats, and those with household income of $50-100k are the most likely to have “a lot” of trust in this news source; and
  • Somewhat surprisingly, 18-29-year-olds have among the lowest levels of trust for news found on the internet.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey fielded December 8-9, 2016 among 1,000 US adults (18+).

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