A February 2023 Fortune headline ran “Trust in media is so low that half of Americans now believe that news organizations deliberately mislead them.”
A recent national poll by John Zogby Strategies included questions that asked whether the news voters watch is reporting or distorting facts.
The questions specifically asked:
- Generally speaking, regarding national news you follow, do you believe it is reporting facts, distorting facts, leaving out important information, or not sure?
- Generally speaking, regarding local news you follow, do you believe it is reporting facts, distorting facts, leaving out important information, or not sure?
Some of the key findings on national news include:
- Just under one-third (31%) believe national news they consume reports the facts. Almost equally, 29% say it distorts facts, and another 30% report the national news they follow leaves out important information, leaving 10% undecided.
- Put another way, over two-thirds (69%) opined that the national news they take in does not report facts.
- Party identification plays a stark role in outlook on this key issue – 44% of Democrats believe national news they follow reports honest facts vs. 19% of Republicans. Independents are between the two parties, with 30% believing the news they track reports facts.
- Over half (51%) of those who did not vote in the 2020 election feel that the national news they watch, read, or listen to is distorting facts.
- Finally, regarding local news voters follow, just under half (47%) believe their local news reports the facts vs. 17% that say it “distorts”, and one quarter (25%) opine it leaves out important information.
The data reveals there is a greater degree of trust in local news vs. national news. At the same, the data also signals a wide-ranged distrust of US media as a whole with under half trusting their own local news is doing the job it’s supposed to.
While many intense issues will remain at the forefront (abortion, crime, guns, the environment, war, and inflation), we should expect distrust in the media will likely serve as a powerful backdrop going into 2024.