Commentary

What Surveys Do We Trust About The Media?

Forget about trusting the media. Trust your polls.

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.

4 comments about "What Surveys Do We Trust About The Media?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 10, 2018 at 3:10 p.m.

    What would be even more significant would be a tally by Simmons of the amount of TV news consumption---not just reach but numbers of telecasts seen----for those who say they don't trust TV news vs. those who say that it rates high marks  in this regard. Do these contrary evaluations of news trustworthiness tranlate into correspondingly much lower---or higher---- news consumption rates but, in either case,  about the same levels of viewing for other TV show type genres? I wouldn't be surprised if those who say that they don't trust TV news---a rather vague response to a vauge question to begin with----were found to be heavy news viewers. Anyway, there seems to be no slakening of viewing time for TV news in the Nielsens so what does all of this mean?

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 10, 2018 at 3:42 p.m.

    Should we be amazed that the Moonie (Rev. Sun Yat Moon, leader now deceased) paper (Washington Times) was 10th most trusted ? 

  3. Paul Street from Numeris, October 15, 2018 at 3:47 p.m.

    The figures might simply reflect a bifurcation of American media preferences with each camp perceiving only 'their own' as trustworthy. The key overlay would be claimed usage and perception; I should suspect that Fox News viewers have a rather high level of trust in their select source and probably a lower opinion of MSNBC.

  4. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network replied, October 16, 2018 at 3:24 p.m.

    I think it would be equally significant to check the correlation between these new numbers and the recently published studies that show a steady decline in IQ scores.  How else can we explain the amazing 10th place score of the Washington Times, as Paula Lynn points out?  

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