Media trust crisis—new survey explores consumers’ faith in various news outlets

by | Oct 18, 2018 | Public Relations

The average percentage of respondents who rated news sources as trustworthy or very trustworthy in a new survey from consumer intelligence org Simmons Research was just 40 percent—a clear sign the news media is in crisis. The firm recently released its News Media Trust Index, a trustworthiness ranking of 38 of the largest and well-known news sources.

Topping the list across all news sources—and the only newspaper in the top five—was The Wall Street Journal, with 57.7 percent of Americans trusting them.

Also performing well were the major television network news organizations, with ABC (55.9 percent), CBS (55.4 percent), and NBC (54.1 percent) ranking as the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th most trusted sources. Forbes was the most trusted magazine and rounded out the top five, trusted by 54.2 percent of Americans.

Media trust crisis—new survey explores consumers' faith in various news outlets

Among cable news, the most trusted network in the U.S. was ironically not American. BBC News was trusted by 55.2 percent of Americans and was the fourth most trusted news source. CNN was fourth behind BBC News, MSNBC (47.4 percent), and Bloomberg (46.3 percent). Fox News came in 17th place, with just 44.7 percent of Americans trusting them.

The least trusted news sources were all Internet-first and hyper-partisan in nature

These outlets are both liberal and conservative, representing brands that have been consistently rated as misleading and inaccurate by fact-checkers. The six organizations trusted least were split evenly between far-left and far-right news sources, and on average were trusted by only about one in four Americans.

Thirteen percent of Americans found none of these news sources to be trustworthy

This segment of consumers, identified by Simmons as “doubters” seem to think all news is fake news. Interestingly, this group, while they were less likely to vote overall, voted heavily for Donald Trump (62.2 percent Trump v. 27.8 percent Clinton).

Read more about the survey and see the full list of 38 outlets here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter