Poll Shows Public Confidence in News Media Sinking to Record Low

In its annual survey of the public's faith in 17 key institutions, TV news has fallen to a new low, with only the U.S. Congress ranking below it in terms of public esteem.

Just 18 percent of U.S. adults say they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in TV news, down from 23 percent who gave those answers last year. The previous record low was in 2012, when just 21 percent said they had "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in TV news.

Faith in newspapers has also fallen to 22 percent, down from 23 percent last year and tying the record low in 2007. And less than one in five Americans (19%) said they had "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in "news on the Internet," a lower level than when the category was last included by Gallup in their 1999 survey.

In contrast, Gallup found much higher levels of public confidence in institutions that are often criticized by the press: the military (74%), small business (62%), the police (53%), and the church or organized religion (45%). Faith in the U.S. Congress currently stands at seven percent, down from 10 percent last year.

The public's collapsing respect for the media has been validated in other Gallup surveys. A September 2013 poll found “far more Americans say the media are too liberal than too conservative, 46 percent vs. 13 percent, as was the case in 2011, and every year since Gallup has been tracking this trend.”

In 2012, Gallup found "Americans' distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly," a figure that ebbed only slightly (to 55%) in 2013.

For more on these polls and others documenting the public's growing distrust of the news media, see our "Media Bias 101" section, which features the results of dozens of surveys about the media.

— Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center. Follow Rich Noyes on Twitter.