Trust in Traditional Media Rebounds … while Social Continues its Slump

Great news; traditional media is bouncing back from the massive hit it took during the last couple of years. American audiences began to show serious skepticism of the media back in 2015, and it continued to drop in 2016-17 over fake news.

Now, according to John McCarthy in The Drum, trust is building again in traditional media. McCarthy bases his report on findings from the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, just released this month.

That trust, however, does not span across the board for all media sources. As McCarthy notes, trust in search engines, owned media and social media dropped from last year, while traditional media is up 13%.

Now, there is some troubling news in the report about news consumption, not terribly surprising after the chaos of the news cycle the last two years.

“On the public’s media diet, 33% claimed they are reading less news than they used to and a fifth said they are avoiding all news altogether,” McCarthy reports. “40% blamed the depressing nature of news, 33% blamed media bias, 27% believe the news to be controlled by hidden agendas, and a quarter blamed sensationalization. A fifth said news quality had decreased.”

Media outlets are fighting back, and McCarthy believes this is helping.

“As a rule of thumb, prominent media outlets last year launched marketing campaigns to inform the public of the quality of their news packages against the misinformation ecosystem,” he writes. “Today’s figures look to confirm that these efforts have at least helped rebuild the public’s trust in the media.”

A trusted, free and unfettered news media is fundamental to our strength as a nation. And as citizens of that nation, we have a responsibility to use that news media to educate ourselves. If the trust is broken, none of it works.

It’s been tough watching what happened over the last few years, and this sign of encouragement is surely welcome.