Accuracy in Media

After trending downward for years, Americans’ confidence in newspapers and television news rebounded last year though they are still below the 2006 levels according to a new Gallup survey.

Even though the results are the best numbers the media have posted since 2006, they are still well below the confidence levelsĀ  in the 1990’s and the early part of this decade.

1990-2011 Trend: Americans' Confidence in Newspapers and Television News

The survey also found big changes in confidence levels among various demographic groups, with those in the 18-29 age range showing a 10-point increase in their confidence in television news, which was offset by a 10-point decrease in their confidence in newspapers. This may be due to the younger generation’s continued shift away from print newspapers and television, and especially because of cable news’ integration of social media into their operations.

Among the 30-49 year-old set was a 9-point increase in confidence in newspapers and a similar 8-point increase in television news. This may represent a realization that there is still some value in the printed page and that they are still the core audience for cable news.

In breaking down the survey findings on political lines, Democrats’ confidence in newspapers outstrips that of conservatives by a margin of 37-21 percent, and is slightly narrower with regard to television news at 30-23 percent.

That makes sense though, as the liberal bias of the news fits like a hand-in-glove with the views of Democrats on most issues.

The news media have been craving some good news after several years of having been battered not only by a recession, but also by the Internet and the explosive growth of social media, which have made their business model almost obsolete. And while this slight uptick in confidence is certainly positive news, the fact remains that the media are still overwhelmingly distrusted by the American public and it is unlikely that this will change much as we head into a presidential election year.

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