Yes, the mass media have been criticized in many quarters for their coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign. But the issue of trust goes far beyond political coverage. It deals more directly with the competition from nontraditional media that has led to (1) more “got you” stories, (2) the quest to be first with a story even if not certain about the facts, (3) the focus on headlines more than content, and much more.
In 2016, “Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly’ has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year.”
Gallup began asking about media trust in 1972, and on a yearly basis since 1997. Over the history of the entire trend, Americans’ trust and confidence hit its highest point in 1976, at 72%, in the wake of widely lauded examples of investigative journalism regarding Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. After staying in the low to mid-50s through the late 1990s and into the early years of the new century, Americans’ trust in the media has fallen slowly and steadily. It has consistently been below a majority level since 2007.”
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