Nearly half of Americans say the news media is “critical” — up 5 percentage points since 2017 — and more than 80% say it is at least “very important” in providing accurate information and holding the powerful accountable, according to a Gallup/Knight Foundation study published in August. The study also found that as many Americans as say the news media has the potential to bring people together also say the media bears at least some blame for political divisions.
Coverage of the current coronavirus outbreak has consumed much of the news media’s attention as Americans look for information in a time of high anxiety and uncertainty. Overall, more Americans hold positive than negative views of the news media’s coverage of the COVID-19 crisis, though broader views of the media are more evenly divided or more negative.
Democrats and Republicans, who already tend to place their trust in different news sources and rely on different outlets for political news, now disagree more than ever on a fundamental issue of the news media’s role in society: whether news organizations’ criticism of political leaders primarily keeps them from doing things they shouldn’t — or keeps them from doing their job.
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. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004.
A new survey by the Public Affairs Council finds that the federal government is the only sector that people like less than the media. The survey was about how Americans view big businesses. Fifty-four percent viewed news media somewhat or very favorably, while 44% said their overall opinion of news media was not favorable.