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American’s Trust in Media Continues to Decline

Both mainstream and alternative outlets are viewed skeptically by the public

New data indicates Americans’ trust in both mainstream and alternative media platforms has continued a pattern of decline. 

I&I/TIPP Trust in Media indexes was created in March of 2020 to measure public perception of traditional and alternative media. According to the index, a score of 50 indicates a neutral opinion. A score above 50 indicates trust and scores below 50 indicate a lack of trust.

Major national news outlets, like the Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and CNN, are classified as traditional media outlets. Alternative media include largely non-mainstream news sources that are primarily web-based, such as the New York Post, Washington Times, NewsMax, and RealClearPolitics.

Trust in traditional media slipped from 44.8 in August to 43.7 in September. Alternative media did not fare better, moving from 41.6 in August to 40.2 in September.

The monthly poll, carried out by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, surveyed 1,305 adults between Sept. 1 and Sept. 3.

The trust index is notably not at an all-time low. TIPP reported earlier this year that “the Traditional Media Index fell across the board in May, with 30 of the 36 demographic groups we track showing a decline. The Alternative Media Index fared slightly worse, with 33 of the 36 groups falling in May.”

Political affiliation remains the most significant demographic divided among Americans when asked how the media is performing.

“Among Republicans and independents, responses for the mostly liberal-left traditional media show a high level of distrust,” Issues & Insights reports. “The index for Republicans stood at 23.5, the lowest ever and nearly 10 points below the initial level measured just last March. Independents actually gained some for the month, rising from August’s 33.8 reading to 36.3. But both show a difference from the Democrats. For the Dems, the traditional media gauge rose to 65.7 for the month, nearly three times higher than the Republican index and almost twice the level of the independents.”

About 25% of respondents said they have “no trust at all” in traditional media companies. Once again, alternative media companies had a similar reaction, with 24% of respondents reporting they had “no trust at all” for non-mainstream media outlets.

“Disgruntlement with the media was a regional phenomenon, too. The Northeast (48%), Midwest (62%), South (55%), and West (47%) all showed significant distrust of the big media that feed us information daily,” adds I&I.

The poll’s findings echo the results of a Gallup poll from July of 2021, where over 75% of people surveyed reported having low confidence in newspaper and television news.

Only 21% of respondents said they had ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in newspapers, while only 16% of respondents reported the same of television news. Only Congress fared worse, garnering just 12%,” per Fox News.

The I&I/TIPP poll is intended to be an independent and unbiased tool to track Americans’ trust in the media.

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