Gallup has just released its latest survey of Americans’ confidence in the news media, and after a one-year rise, it has slipped back to an all-time low:
After registering slightly higher trust last year, Americans’ confidence in the media’s ability to report ‘the news fully, accurately, and fairly’ has returned to its previous all-time low of 40%. ..Trust among Democrats, who have traditionally expressed much higher levels of confidence in the media than Republicans have, dropped to a 14-year low of 54% in 2014. Republicans’ trust in the media is at 27%, one percentage point above their all-time low, while independents held steady at 38% — up one point from 37% in 2013.
While Americans’ confidence level was once again on the downtrend, the survey found a sharp uptick in their belief that the media are too conservative, from 13% to 19%. Not exactly a big number, but a sharp increase nevertheless. This may be due in part to Fox News tightening its grip on cable news and the constant complaints about the liberal media, along with the dominance of conservative talk radio.
Though a sizable percentage of Americans continue to have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media, Americans’ overall trust in the Fourth Estate continues to be significantly lower now than it was 10 to 15 years ago.
While the media expand into new domains of news reporting via social media networks and new mobile technology, Americans may be growing disenchanted with what they consider “mainstream” news, as they seek out their own personal veins of getting information. At the same time, confidence is down across many institutions, and a general lack of trust overall could be at play.
Americans’ opinions about the media seem to be affected, however, in election years. Americans’ trust in the media will likely recover slightly in 2015 with the absence of political campaigns. But the overarching pattern of the past decade has shown few signs of slowing the decline of faith in mass media as a whole.
So the only question that remains is—how low can they go?