Mistrust in Televised News

by Claire Mahoney

A Gallup poll released on Tuesday shows that Americans’ confidence in televised news has dropped. “No kidding,” you might say, after the botched coverage of the Supreme Court health-care ruling by CNN and Fox News. But participants were polled before the June 28 ruling, from June 7 to 10. Only 21 percent expressed “a great deal” of confidence in televised news. In 1993, the figure was 46 percent, marking a huge decrease over the last 19 years.

Gallup elaborates:

It is not clear precisely why Americans soured so much on television news this year compared with last. Americans’ negativity likely reflects the continuation of a broader trend that appeared to enjoy only a brief respite last year. Americans have grown more negative about the media in recent years, as they have about many other U.S. institutions and the direction of the country in general.

So what sources do Americans trust?

Pew Center researchers looked into this question back in 2010. A survey indicated that, at that point in time, 61 percent of Americans used online news outlets as their primary source of news, but local and national TV stations were more heavily used — at 78 percent and 73 percent, respectively. Since then, the Pew Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has reported that from 2010 to 2011 audiences for news websites grew 17.2 percent, while televised news collectively saw only 6.5 percent growth.

Because anyone can write anything on the Internet, heavy dependence on it for news can result in a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation. But it isn’t as if the television media are doing much better on this front. Fast and Furious, anyone?