It’s traditional to see choice as one of the prizes of capitalism. More choice equals increased happiness. Maybe not when the choice in question is media.
A recent survey has adult Americans saying (58% to 38%) that it’s harder, not easier, to be a well-informed citizen. The culprit, they say, is the plethora of media sources. When more sources are available, the amount of misinformation is, too.
Another takeaway applicable to brand communicators in the study of 19,000 U.S. adults, 18 and older, that Gallup and the Knight Foundation just released, is that Americans lack confidence in their media sources. As the table below shows, 43% of those polled have an unfavorable view of media; 33% have a favorable view.
While this puts the onus on PR pros to think carefully about earned media, the divide along party lines may help.Democrats (54%) have a favorable view of the media (18% are negative), just 15% of Republicans do (68% are negative).
In addition 66% said the media does a poor job of separating fact from opinion, up from 42% in 1984. Fewer than half (44%) say they can name one media source that presents news objectively.
Another useful nugget for brand communicators: Americans have the most trust in national network news and local and national newspapers to provide mostly accurate and politically balanced news.
After that they trust cable news most; internet news sources come in last. Still, equal proportions of Americans rely on social media as rely on newspapers to stay informed.
73% of Americans say the spread of inaccurate information on the internet is a major problem. A majority of U.S. adults consider fake news a very serious threat to democracy. Here it’s a bipartisan sentiment: 71% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans say the spread of inaccurate information on the internet is “a major problem.”
Perceptions of media bias, though, are divided along party lines. 67% of Republicans say they see “a great deal”of political bias in the news, only 26% of Democrats agree.