US Adults’ Trust in Mass Media Rebounds

September 25, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Cross-Media & Traditional | Industries | Media & Entertainment | Newspapers | Radio | Television | TV Audiences & Consumption

Slightly more than 4 in 10 American adults trust the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly, according to a new Gallup survey. That represents a sharp uptick from fewer than one-third (32%) last year, which had been the lowest level in the history of Gallup’s survey that stretches back to 1972.

In fact, the percentage of Americans this yea who have a “great deal” of confidence and trust in the mass media – at 13% – is the highest since 2005. Broader levels of trust (measured as “great deal” or “fair amount”) have been higher as recently as 2013, however.

This year’s rebound is being driven by Democrats, who Gallup theorizes are seeing the media as a watchdog on the current administration. This year an impressive 72% of Democrats surveyed trust mass media a “great deal” or a “fair amount” – a substantial jump from 51% last year.

Independents are also registering a higher level of confidence this year (up 7% points to 37%), while Republicans are unchanged at 14%.

As such, the gap in trust between Republicans and Democrats has reached a new high in the survey’s 45-year history.

The analysts at Gallup also point to a separate, earlier survey likewise demonstrating an increase in confidence in newspapers and TV news. Both were spurred by Democrats more than Republicans.

For the time being, mass media – such as TV, radio and newspapers – are among the most common news platforms for US adults. As social media rises as a news source, though – with its concurrent issues (read: Facebook & fake news), it will be interesting to see what impact that will have on trust in mass media outlets.

About the Data: Gallup describes its methodology as follows:

“Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 6-10, 2017, with a random sample of 1,022 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 70% cellphone respondents and 30% 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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