In addition to
their well-publicized financial woes, newspapers have a credibility problem, as Americans’ confidence in them continues to decline.
A Gallup poll of 1,529 adults conducted June 1-4
found that the proportion of respondents expressing “a great deal” of confidence in newspapers slipped from 25% in 2012 to 23% this year; in 2011 28% of Americans expressed a great deal of
confidence in newspapers.
Although there have been temporary oscillations, the general long-term direction of the trend is clearly down, as the number of Americans expressing a great
deal of confidence in newspapers previously declined from 51% in 1979 to 37% in 2000 and just over 30% in 2006.
Conservatives were least likely to trust newspapers, with just 15%
saying they have a great deal of confidence in them, compared to 25% of moderates and 31% of liberals. The proportion of conservatives expressing confidence is down from 21% last year, while the
proportion of moderates is down from 28% in 2011, and the proportion of liberals is down from a recent peak of 39% in 2009.
College graduates were also less likely to trust newspapers
(16%) than people with post-graduate education (25%). Younger people were more likely to trust newspapers, with 30% of people ages 18-29 expressing a great deal of confidence, compared to 22% of
people ages 30-49 and 17% of people ages 50 to 64.
On the positive side, newspapers did manage to beat big business (22%), organized labor (20%), health care organizations 19%), and
Congress (10%) in the Gallup poll for 2013. TV news was tied with newspapers at 23%, up from 21% last year -- but just half the 46% confidence rating it received in 1993.