Civics: declining legacy media confidence

Gallup

Gallup has tracked Americans’ confidence in newspapers since 1973 and television news since 1993 as part of its annual polling about major U.S. institutions. The latest readings are from a June 1-20 poll that saw declines in confidence ratings for 11 of the 16 institutions measured and no improvements for any.

Television news and newspapers rank nearly at the bottom of that list of institutions, with only Congress garnering less confidence from the public than TV news. While these two news institutions have never earned high confidence ratings, they have fallen in the rankings in recent years.

A majority of Americans have expressed confidence 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 latest reading of 16%, which is the first time the measure has fallen below 20%. The percentage of Americans who say they have “very little” or volunteer that they have no confidence is currently the highest on record, at 46%.

Confidence in television news has never been higher than its initial 46% reading in 1993 and has averaged 27%, considerably higher than the current 11%. This is the fourth consecutive year that confidence in TV news is below 20%. And for just the second time in the trend, a majority of Americans, 53%, now say they have very little or no confidence at all in TV news.

Glenn Reynolds:

Why don’t Americans trust the government and other institutions? Maybe it’s because the government and other institutions aren’t trustworthy.

There’s certainly plenty of evidence for both the lack of trust and the lack of trustworthiness. And if the trend continues, it bodes poorly for America.

The news is bad on the lack of trust. A recent University of Chicago Institute of Politics poll found that a majority of Americans think that the government is “corrupt and rigged against people like me.” Two-thirds of Republicans and independents felt that way, but things weren’t much better among liberals, 51% of whom agreed. So this isn’t the usual sour grapes from the party out of power — it’s a general sentiment.

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