The percentage of Americans saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers dropped to 23 percent this year from 25 percent last year, according to a report on the poll, which was released Monday.
American confidence in newspapers reached its peak at 51 percent in 1979, and a low of 22 percent in 2008.
But newspapers don’t stand alone. Confidence in television news has also been slipping — it’s tied with newspapers this year at 23 percent, which is slightly up from last year’s all-time low of 21 percent. Newspapers and television news rank near the bottom of a list of 16 “societal institutions,” according to the report. The only institutions television news and newspapers beat out this year are big business, organized labor, health maintenance organizations and Congress. Americans expressed the most confidence in the military, at 76 percent, and small businesses, at 65 percent.
Gallup attributed the drop in confidence to a number of factors, including a growth in social networking websites and an online audience that left news outlets struggling to find their place.
“Americans’ confidence in newspapers and television news has been slowly eroding for many years, worsening further since 2007,” the report says. “By that point, newspapers and television news had been struggling for years to figure out how to adjust their strategy for a growing Internet audience.”
Though all key demographic groups express low levels of confidence in the media, according to the report, the levels of negativity varied by age, education and gender. College graduates are less likely to trust the media than those with only a high school diploma, for example. The poll also found that women are slightly more confident than men in both television news and newspapers.
Much of the confidence can also be measured by political orientation. Conservatives remain the most critical of newspapers and television news, while liberals are the most supportive. Confidence in newspapers by party also mirrors their ideologies. Democrats are most confident, at 33 percent, while Republicans, at 16 percent, are least confident.
“The divided Congress, with Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans the House, is likely part of the reason for the low levels of confidence rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans express, and is tied to Americans’ frustrations with Congress’ inability to get much done,” the report says. – usnews.com