Commentary

Trust In The Media Gets More Complicated For Viewers, Advertisers

Trust in news outlets -- local, national and social media -- are generally declining, no matter what side of the political aisle consumers choose.

Since the 2016 election, according to Pew Research Center, social media has taken the biggest hit-- not that it started with high marks.

Among all U.S. adults who have “a lot” or “some trust” from information delivered, social media has dropped to a 27% “trust” level in 2021 from 34% in 2016.

The Pew research findings came from 10,606 adults who were surveyed June 14-27.

Although national and local legacy news organizations -- TV, print, or otherwise -- have dipped as well, they continue to post better results.

National news is at a 58% trust level, down from 76% in 2016. The best results are from local news outlets -- including TV and print -- landing at a 75% trust level, down from a 82% number.

Much of the decline in trust issues is coming from Republican-leaning respondents for all three main news platforms, but Democrat-leaning respondents have offered some of their own dings.

Democrats are the most negative on social media -- at 34% (down from 36%).

Republican-inclined respondents give social media a lower mark at 19%, down from 32% in 2016.

Democrat-leaning respondents give the highest marks to national and local news -- currently at a 78% and 84% “trust” level -- down from 83% and 85%, respectively. Republicans are currently at a 35% trust number for national news, and 66% for local news.

Looking at all news sources -- including Facebook, Fox News Channel, Google, local TV station groups, CNN, and MSNBC -- you might find a different story when it comes to advertising support -- all generally getting higher results.

So what does that say about the gap between weakening trust and monetization? That there is little cause and effect. People may say they don’t"‘trust" social media, or even national, local TV news outlets. Marketers see a different story.

For example, there has been a rise in viewing among traditional TV networks -- especially during key election and/or major news cycles. As a result, there has been growth in ad revenue across Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN.

Perhaps to no one’s surprise, the bottom line seems to be that respondents may want to offer a survey/questioner what they believe is the “correct” or “right” response.

Viewers' actions write another story -- or at least a more complex picture.

What can you conclude from this? An old refrain: Don’t listen to what people say. Watch what they do.

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