While the news industry in the U.S. has suffered from a major trust deficit in recent years, most Americans trust reporting by local news media organizations and believe these outlets are doing a good job keeping them informed regarding issues going on in their communities, according to a recent study by the Knight Foundation and opinion poll giant Gallup.
The study, which analyzed Americans’ perceptions and attitudes of local news organizations, found that nearly half of U.S. adults polled (45 percent) said they trust reporting by their local news “a great deal” or “quite a lot.”
|The Knight Foundation/Gallup report asked 4,100 Americans: in general, how much do you trust national/local news organizations when it comes to reporting the news?|
Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) believe these outlets do a good job of educating them regarding what’s going on in their community, and more than half (51 percent) said they don’t feel these organizations have become more biased in recent years.
Moreover, more than a third of respondents consider local journalists to be “caring” (36 percent) and more than a quarter said they consider them “trustworthy” (29 percent).
By contrast, the study discovered that fewer than a third of Americans (31 percent) currently trust reporting by national news outlets, and only 19 percent said they think the national news provides coverage they can use in their daily life. Only eight percent said they consider national journalists “trustworthy” and only four percent see them as “caring.”
Partisanship appears to play no small role in shaping these attitudes, as respondents identifying as Democrat were consistently more likely to positively rate the perception and job performance of local news organizations than those identifying as Republican.
Three-quarters of Democrats polled (75 percent) said they feel local news groups are doing an “excellent” or “good” job, compared to only 54 percent of Republicans. Half of Democrat respondents (50 percent) expressed overall confidence in the local media, compared to only 27 percent of Republicans.
By and large, most Americans think their area news organizations reflect the ideological leanings of the communities in which they reside, with only about a quarter (27 percent) believing local news organizations lean liberal or extremely liberal, and only 15 percent believing these outlets lean conservative or extremely conservative.
The study suggests this heightened suspicion of a liberal bias in the local news may exist because Republicans may suspect a greater disconnect between their personal beliefs and the perceived political leanings of the news media in their area. While only 14 percent of Democrats perceive a wide gap between their own ideology and the perceived beliefs of the local news media, that number is more than double for Republicans (38 percent). While only a third of Republicans (33 percent) see a high correspondence between their ideology and that of their local news, more than half of Democrats (52 percent) reported this level of accord with the news groups where they live.
The Knight Foundation/Gallup report, “The State of Public Trust in Local News,” surveyed more than 4,100 U.S. adults between June and July.