WASHINGTON – TECHNOLOGY – Americans’ confidence in two facets of the news media – newspapers and television news – has fallen to historic lows. Only 16% of American adults now say they trust newspapers “a lot” or “somewhat” and 11% trust television news. Both readings are down five percentage points from last year.
The report comes after years of false news reports and growing comments on social media.
- 16% of Americans trust newspapers a lot/somewhat
- 11% have the same level of trust in TV news
- Low Democrat confidence but higher than Republicans and independents
Gallup has tracked Americans’ trust in newspapers since 1973 and television news since 1993 in its annual survey of major US institutions. The latest readings come from a June 1-20 poll that saw a drop in trust ratings for 11 of the 16 institutions measured and no improvement for any.
Television news and newspapers rank near the bottom of this list of institutions, with only Congress garnering less public trust than television news. Although these two news institutions have never had high trust ratings, they have fallen in the rankings in recent years.
A majority of Americans have expressed their trust in newspapers only once – in 1979, when 51% did. But there is a wide margin between that and the second highest readings of 39% in 1973 and 1990. The trend average for newspapers is 30%, well above the last reading of 16%, which is the first time the measurement falls below. 20%. The percentage of Americans who say they have “very little” or who volunteer to be distrustful is currently the highest on record, at 46%.
Trust in TV news has never been higher than its initial reading of 46% in 1993 and has averaged 27%, considerably higher than the current 11%. This is the fourth year in a row that trust in television news has fallen below 20%. And for only the second time in the trend, a majority of Americans, 53%, now say they have very little or no confidence in TV news.
Democrats’ trust in media higher than other supporters but lower than average
Republicans (5%) and independents (12%) trust in newspapers is the lowest on record for these party groups, while that of Democrats (35%) has been lower in the past. Democrats’ confidence in newspapers rose from 42% to 46% under the Donald Trump administration, but fell when President Joe Biden took office.
Trust in newspapers among supporters is now well below trend averages for Republicans (24%) and independents (28%) and slightly below average for Democrats (38%). Majority Republicans have had little to no trust in newspapers since 2017, the first year independents’ low trust has been at the majority level.
Trust in TV news follows a similar pattern, with Democrats expressing greater confidence than Republicans and Independents. However, the trust ratings of Democrats and independents are down significantly from a year ago and are now at historic lows – 20% and 8%, respectively. Meanwhile, the 8% of Republicans with a lot or some confidence in television news is not statistically different from last year’s record low of 6%.
As with supporter confidence in newspapers, current television news ratings are below trend averages of 22% for Republicans, 25% for Independents and 35% for Democrats. The majority of Republicans and Independents have expressed little or no confidence in television news since 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Multiple Gallup measures of Americans’ opinion of the news media show growing distrust. Last fall, Gallup found almost record trust in the media report the news in a complete, accurate and fair manner, and few Americans called newspaper and TV reporters highly ethical in the annual Gallup Honesty and Ethics in the Professions poll in December. Although trust in the media in the United States has been rare for many years, trust rates for newspapers and television news have never been lower than they are today. Taken together, these data suggest that the media has a long way to go to regain public trust.