You trust the media more than you say you do

By | July 20, 2022

Jack Shafer writes:

If you follow the trendline of plummeting trust in newspapers, as just updated by Gallup, you could make an argument that by the year 2030 or so, 0 percent of respondents will say they have any “confidence” in newspapers and TV news.

It sounds ridiculous, but that’s the direction the data is headed. In 1979, 51 percent of those polled said they had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspaper journalism. But in Gallup’s latest poll this week, the number dropped to 16 percent, marking a steep four-and-a-half decade decline. Confidence in TV news has fared even worse, dropping from 46 percent in 1991 to 11 percent today.

Will the last poll respondent to lose confidence in newspapers and TV news, please cancel his subscription and turn off his TV?

This downer news about the news — and its hell-bound trajectory — surely measures something, but what? Other surveys by the Pew Research Center and the Reuters Institute bring similar findings. Could it be that newspapers are demonstrably worse than they were decades ago? No. Would anybody who was reading newspapers in 1979 say that? No, any honest assessment would find today’s newspapers more timely and accurate, fairer, and often better-written than the newspapers of 1979. So, what gives? [Continue reading…]