Americans are less likely to say they trust the media than they were five years ago, amid a wider divide in opinions between Democrats and Republicans, according to a survey.
highlights the need for fact-based journalism to counter online misinformation, propaganda and fake news.
The portion of U.S. adults who tend to trust national news
organizations slipped from 76% in 2016 to a new low of 58% this year, according to Pew Research Center
. Local news was deemed the most
trustworthy, though its percentages slipped from 82% to 75% during the period.
Social media is the least trusted as a source of information, falling from 34% to 27%.
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents drove much of the declines among these media channels. The portion of political conservatives who trust the national news plunged from 70% five
years ago to a low of 35% this year.
Most Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents said they trust the national news, though their numbers fell from 83% to a low of 78%
during the period.
“This partisan gap is the largest of any time that this question has been asked since 2016,” according to Pew, “and it grows even wider
— to 53 points — between liberal Democrats (83%) and conservative Republicans (30%).”
The survey didn’t probe the reasons for these declines, leaving
them open for interpretation. The fragmentation of news media likely is a big reason. Amid the profusion of news and commentary outlets that appeal to narrower constituencies, readers can find
coverage to reinforce their political biases.
More distressing is the broad decline in trust toward the news media as misinformation proliferates online.