At a moment in time when we, as Americans, are depending heavily on the media for information about the US election, the coronavirus pandemic and other national and global developments, the public remains fundamentally untrusting of the media. According to Gallup, four in 10 U.S. adults say they have "a great deal" (9%) or "a fair amount" (31%) of trust and confidence in the media to report the news "fully, accurately, and fairly," while six in 10 have "not very much" trust (27%) or "none at all" (33%).
Gallup began asking about trust in the media in 1972 and has continued to do so nearly every year since 1997. Trust ranged between 68% and 72% in the 1970s, and though it had declined by the late 1990s, it remained at the majority level until 2004, when it dipped to 44%. After hitting 50% in 2005, it has not risen above 47%.
The latest findings, from Gallup's annual Governance poll conducted (Aug. 31-Sept. 13,) are consistent with all but one recent trust rating -- in 2016, a steep decline in Republicans' trust in the media led to the lowest reading on record (32%).
Republicans' trust has not improved since then, while Democrats' has risen sharply. In fact, Democrats' trust over the past four years has been among the highest Gallup has measured for any party in the past two decades. This year, the result is a record 63-percentage-point gap in trust among the political party groups.
And yet with all of this mistrust and political polarization and pessimism about the news media in the U.S., the majority of Americans still believe strongly that an independent media is absolutely crucial to a functioning democracy. (Gallup and the Knight Foundation's Trust, Media and Democracy.)
So with all of this distrust, how can we know we are getting the truth from news sources?
The guest on this episode, Arjun Moorthy is here to help. Arjun has always loved the news -- - ever since he was a paper boy in middle school and through becoming editor in chief of the Stanford reporter. He believes that best news enlightens us, brings us together, and improves our communities. Arjun is currently CEO and Co-Founder of The Factual - a news-related aggregation and ranking website based in San Mateo, California. The website aims to address the increasing polarization of society, driven by social media, by surfacing the most credible stories across the political spectrum. The Factual delivers news mainly via a daily email-based newsletter but you can also access this on-demand on their website.
The Factual analyzes the credibility of over 20,000 stories every single day.