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Twenty-Five Percent of Americans Now Believe National News Outlets Intentionally Mislead

A recent survey conducted by Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that half of the Americans surveyed believe that national news organizations have the intention to mislead, misinform, or persuade the public to adopt a certain point of view through their reporting. This goes beyond previous surveys that have indicated a low level of trust in the media, and is a startling point for many who believe there is an intention to deceive.

The study found that only 25% of the respondents agreed with the statement that national news organizations do not intend to mislead, while 50% disagreed. Additionally, 52% disagreed with the statement that national news outlets have the best interests of their readers, viewers, and listeners in mind.

“This data offers further evidence that sustainable journalism begins and ends with trust,” said Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen. “We believe a citizenry that trusts the news is more informed, more engaged and better prepared to participate meaningfully in our democracy.”

The tangible cost of low emotional trust in news

  • Forty-four percent of Americans have high emotional trust in local news organizations, compared with 21% who have high emotional trust in national news organizations.
  • Higher emotional trust in local news is related to a higher likelihood of having paid for news and willingness to do so in the future.
  • Importantly, when Americans perceive that local news organizations do not have the resources to report the news accurately and fairly, they are more likely to say they would consider paying for news in the future. 
  • Only 26% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the news media, the lowest level since Gallup and Knight began tracking in 2017.

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