Disaster Zone

Trust in the Media

Trust is a vital component to any relationship.

by Eric Holdeman / December 20, 2018

What type of marriage do you have if there is a lack of trust? What type of government do you have if the citizens don't trust their elected officials? What type of religious following do you have if the congregants don't trust their ministry leaders? Trust is important to any relationship, personal or organizational. When workers don't trust management, don't expect high productivity!

See the summary below from an email I received. Also, see the bonus item on the bottom of the blog post about what the impact of disappearing daily newspapers have on a community.

"Today [12-13-18] Gallup and Knight Foundation announced a new report, the last in a series of studies released in 2018, which explore American views of trust, media and democracy. We also published a short recap of the series highlighting lessons learned over 2018 by Sam Gill, Knight's vice president of communities and impact.

Like much of the report series, today's study, In the Internet We Trust: The Impact of Engaging with News Articles, provides important insights to journalists, social media companies and others on ways to address problems with misinformation and declining trust in media. It shows, in a live experiment, that those who share news stories have higher trust in the content they are sharing, but those who research news stories to learn more have lower trust in the content.

Importantly, the social media news ecosystem is built for sharers. Sharing is incentivized, encouraged, and enabled. Researching is not, and skeptical readers have few tools within the system to check it.

Key findings include:

  • The act of sharing an article is generally associated with high levels of trust — 71 percent of articles that readers indicated they would share received a trust rating between a 4.0 and 5.0, with 5.0 as the maximum rating.
  • Most people wanted to share an article for social or personal reasons, not because they were skeptical of the story. The top reasons for wanting to share were to call attention to the story (44 percent), to express one’s interest in the topic (20 percent) and to engage with others (18 percent).
  • Compared with those who would share an article, participants who wanted to engage the article by learning more about it were not as trusting of the news articles they read. In particular, participants who said they would learn more by visiting a fact-checking website or another news website were less trusting than those who said they would learn more by visiting Google or Wikipedia.
  • Consistent with past research, overall trust in media is strongly influenced by a person’s political affiliation and the ideology a particular news outlet is associated with.

Taken together, the Gallup-Knight report series highlights the challenges of declining trust in media, emphasizing that improved data and knowledge around this issue is essential to diagnosing the problem and finding solutions. The series forms part of Knight Foundation's larger initiative on Trust, Media and Democracy, launched in 2017, which includes a high-level commission established in partnership with Aspen Institute that is exploring the impact of eroding trust in news media on our democracy."

Bonus item: Starving The Watchdog: Who Foots The Bill When Newspapers Disappear?