In Fake News Era, TV Retains Top Spot In Voter Influence

At a time when the specter of fake news is increasingly troubling for online news aggregators, TV news is even more necessary.

Commentators have questioned the role that Twitter and social media played in the election of Donald Trump. The emergence of “fake news” stories has exaggerated the lack of trust in the media, particularly by those who discount out-of-hand mainstream outlets as a media arm of the political “elite.”

The dearth of editorial oversight on various social-media sites that aggregate news and disseminate it to millions must be addressed. Still, studies have shown a majority of registered voters turn to television as their main source of news.

A recently released Morning Consult survey commissioned by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) in battleground states immediately following the November 8 elections found TV, among all media, plays the most important role in influencing voters.



The survey showed that 58% of registered voters in battleground states saw TV as the most important influencer in voting decisions. A strong 71% of respondents increased their awareness of candidates' issues watching television, and 57% gave consideration to voting because of TV programming.

While only 33% of polled voters found social media trustworthy, more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents across all political leanings, ages and genders found local TV broadcast to be their trusted medium of choice.

The reach afforded TV ads also plays a crucial role. TV may not have the targeting capabilities that online marketing strategies offer, but its scope and scale remain unmatched in the political advertising landscape. From a regulatory perspective, the FCC can ensure, to a point, reliable guidelines for what is considered news.

It feels appropriate that consumers are relying on well-established news outlets to obtain their political information. However, there has been a significant increase in social-first news consumers, which unfortunately only exacerbates the problems posed by the dissemination of fake news stories.

The issues that arise from this skewed type of news consumption have dire consequences. As reported by MediaPost, President Obama addressed this in one of his overseas news conferences:

“If we are not serious about the facts and what’s true and what’s not, particularly in the social-media era when so many get information from sound bites and snippets off their phone, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.”


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