For years, studies have shown Americans’ trust in the news media is steadily declining. In recent months, the rise of so-called fake news and the rhetoric of President Donald Trump about journalists being “the enemy of the people” have made the question of trust in a free press an even more prominent issue facing the country.At the same time, data show that over the past decade, people have been consuming more news than ever. How are we to explain the apparent paradox?New research released today by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration of the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, suggests public attitudes about the news media are more complex and nuanced than many traditional studies indicate, with attitudes varying markedly depending on what media people are asked about.
The findings show that on many fronts, Americans are skeptical of “the news media” in the abstract, but generally trust the news they themselves rely on. And most people mention traditional or mainstream news sources as the ones they turn to.As an example, only 24 percent of Americans say they believe the news media in general are “moral.” But that number more than doubles, to a majority of 53 percent, when people are asked about the news media they use most often.Just 17 percent of Americans give the news media high marks for being “very accurate.” But twice as many (34 percent) say that about the news media they use.