Some new research shows optimism about newspapers and TV networks. Sort of. For example, Simmons News Media Trust Index found the average percentage of respondents who rated news sources as trustworthy or very trustworthy was just 40%.
They say that’s “a clear sign the news media is in crisis.”
These results seem somewhat lower than a recent Pew Research Center poll released in June, from results in February/March this year. It revealed 21% saying they have “a lot of trust,” while 49% had “some trust” and 29% “not too much/none at all.”
All positive Pew “trust” results give this around a 70% score. Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between. Yes, it’s hard to meld two different kind of polls. That’s the grim part.
Simmons says five of the top 10 most-trusted news sources comes from newspapers, with The Wall Street Journal earning top marks -- 57.7%, the percentage of Americans who trust the newspaper.
Others getting top marks: The New York Times (53.8%, 7th place); The Washington Post (53.6%, 8th place); USA Today (51.1%, 10th place); and The Washington Times (50%, 10th place).
Broadcast networks did a bit better generally: ABC News (55.9%, 2nd place); CBS News (55.4%, 3rd place); and NBC News (54.1%, 6th place).
While all this sounds good, it begs the question -- at least for top players. If 55% to 58% “trust” the top players, what about the other 45% to 42%?
Looking at the whole range of individual news organizations, it goes from 58% (The Wall Street Journal) doing the best -- and 38% for The Huffington Post (20th place), among the top 20 players.
Three big cable networks posted lower-end results: MSNBC did the best (47.4%, 11th place); CNN (46.1%, 14th place); and Fox News Channel (44.7%, 17th place). BBC News America grabbed the best results for a U.S.-based cable TV network, 55.2%.
The good news is that while the top 20 were deem more “trustworthy,” the Simmons poll also recognized some even lower -- a 25% score for the six least-trusted organizations -- far-left and far-right news sources.
Polls -- nothing but polls. But what about actual readership and that always mysterious “engagement” marketers love to talk about? That may tell another story, an even more complicated one.