Trust in the media appears to be on the rebound, according to an annual survey conducted by journalism nonprofit Poynter Institute.
Poynter’s latest survey found more than half of Americans — 55 percent — say they now trust national network news, 59 percent trust national newspapers and 47 percent trust online-only news outlets. In total, 54 percent currently claim to have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust and confidence in the media overall, a 22-percent surge from the 32 percent trust rating gathered only two years ago.
Average media trust by outlet type.
This sense of trust notedly appears at the local level. The Poynter survey found that more than three-quarters of Americans — 76 percent — now have at least a fair amount of trust in local television news, and 73 percent say they trust local newspaper publishers, compared to 55 percent last year.
The surprise reversal follows a decades-long trend of declining trust in the press and seems to have begun sometime last year, correlating with Donald Trump’s presidency, a man known for his relentless attacks on the media.
Poynter’s 2017 Media Trust Survey last year found that overall trust and confidence in the media surged to its highest levels since 2001, though remained markedly lower among those identifying as Republican, with 44 percent claiming they believe the media fabricates stories about Trump on a regular basis.
This partisan divide remains. While trust and confidence in the press has revealed an upward trend on both political sides, 86 percent of Democrats now say they possess at least a fair amount of trust in the media (a 12-percent uptick from the last Poynter survey and a 53 percent surge since 2016), while Republican trust and confidence stands at only 23 percent (compared to 19 percent in 2017 and 14 percent two years ago.) More than half of Democrats — 55 percent — believe the media “deal fairly with all sides,” but less than 10 percent of Republicans believe that statement.
Reflecting the national trend, Republicans’ trust in the media appears far more pronounced at the local level. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans — 73 percent — said they trust their local TV news station, and 62 percent trust their local newspaper.
The latest Poynter Media Trust Survey was conducted using a representative sample of the U.S. population by market research firm YouGov.