It’s a simple question that, when asked, can bring a flood of responses: What makes a news story trustworthy?
A host of factors, which can vary among differing groups.
The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey to examine those factors that Americans see as important when deciding whether they trust a news story. The findings may not come as a shock, as many Americans have their own biases regarding where they go for news. But the results provide insight into what different folks value when determining a story’s credibility.
The survey found that the bulk of U.S. adults believe that, when deciding if a news story is trustworthy, it is “at least somewhat important” to consider each of the five surveyed factors, with the news outlet that publishes the story leading the way:
However, when taking it a step further in importance, the survey found that fewer U.S. adults view these factors as “very important” in news trustworthiness:
Political affiliation also influences how Americans determine news story credibility, with slight differences across party lines:
“Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were slightly more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners to say it’s very important to consider the news organization that publishes a story (55% vs. 47%) and the sources that are cited in it (51% vs. 44%). Republicans, in turn, are more likely than Democrats to see their own gut instinct as very important (35% vs. 26%), though this is a minority view in both parties.”
Pew Research conducted the survey among 12,045 U.S. adults from March 8-14, 2021. It served as one of the latest reports on how media is viewed among Americans, which in recent years, has included more distrust and skepticism.
Last year, Gallup’s annual Governance poll found that many Americans remain distrustful of mass media, with six in 10 respondents saying they have “not very much” trust (27%) or “none at all” (33%) in mass media. Gallup has conducted its poll on trust in mass media since 1972. Overall, public trust remained at or exceeded the majority level until 2004, when it fell to 44%. After hitting 50% the next year, it has not risen above 47%. The sharpest decline since the poll’s inception came in 2016, when the trust level fell to 32%.
These poll and survey findings raise good questions about how we view news, what we value and trust in news reporting, and where our biases may lie. Sometimes, to really get to the heart of the matter, it may be best to turn the question on ourselves: What do you think makes a news story trustworthy?Tags: Americans, bias, biases, Brand Reputation, critical media, democrat, fake news, Gallup, News, Newsworthy, Online Media Outlet, Pew Research, Pew Research Center, polling, reliable sources, republican, Survey, trust, Values