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Can Americans Trust Modern News Outlets?

Updated on March 27, 2018
Harley McCullar profile image

Harley McCullar, a junior at North Forsyth High School, has the support of his teachers and peers as he embarks on his literary journey.

In accordance to recent polls, most Americans have some trust in modern media.

According to Amy Mitchell from, "Few [Americans] have a lot of confidence in the information they get from professional outlets or friends and family."

Poll based off of popular sources of current news in a given week; keep in mind that the study practiced random sampling to gather information across all demographics, no bias.
Poll based off of popular sources of current news in a given week; keep in mind that the study practiced random sampling to gather information across all demographics, no bias. | Source

Are You Cognizant of the Stats?

Thanks to a systematic random sample of the American populace, the question - 'Did you find news directly from news organizations, word of mouth, search engines, etc. in the last week, or did you not find news in that way?' - the general public now has access to the statistics behind how the majority of Americans source their news. It is true that the most popular source that Americans report finding their news is confirmed as derived directly from news organizations via the newspaper, TV newscast, website, or newswire; 88 percent of the sample group received their news directly from a news organization; in contrast, the second most popular source of news was through traditional word-of-mouth (65 percent). In fact, more Americans discover current events this way than email, text messages, and other online communication (46 percent). Even more than online emails and messaging tools, search engines were reported at 51 percent among the American populace. However, do these same Americans believe in the credibility of these sources?

Poll based off of the trust in popular sources of current news in a given week.
Poll based off of the trust in popular sources of current news in a given week. | Source

Trusting News Sources...

It is a known fact that today's world is a digital world, but does this mean that modern Americans have to endure bias from daily news? The poll has answered this exact question. Studies show that 50% of the American people express immense or complete trust in electronic news alerts, while the opposing view of distrust is 10% (partially trusted if at all). Also, 43% of people express confidence in trusting news discovered directly from news organizations; 44% showing moderate trust, and 13% do not trust these organizations. Despite media jargon, people still believe in the perpetuation of truth driven by the media.

You May Be Asking: "What Constitutes This Lack of Trust?"

As Psychology Today states, "Researchers have isolated four interrelated trends that are driving Truth Decay:

  1. Surging disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data.
  2. Blurring of the line between opinion and fact.
  3. Uptick in the relative volume (and resulting influence) of opinion and personal experience over fact.
  4. Political and demographic polarization."

You might have noticed that at least a couple of these points are applicable to yourself or shared among some of your peers. This is because Americans have fallen victim to profit-driven media and news networks. For example, Fox News was named the most objective news source by Americans. However, this decision was torn between Fox News and CNN; "only 13% of Americans consider CNN to be the most objective news source. By comparison, 24% believe Fox News is most objective." - Ann, journalist

What is the difference? The political parties. The political polarization of media articles is a leading cause in slanted media and truth decay. Ann also writes "the percentages vary drastically when broken down by political affiliation. Among Republicans, 60 percent say Fox is most objective, while just 3 percent of Democrats say that. Conversely, CNN is considered most objective by 21 percent of Democrats and just 4 percent of Republicans." - Ann, journalist

All Things Considered...

Authenticity and validity of solid facts are increasingly hard to confirm and trust across all forms of communication. When selecting what news outlets to plug into, consider the following:

  1. Reputable Sources - Does the article, author, or speaker reference trusted resources for information?
  2. Are the facts contradictory or inconsistent? It is important to cite information properly and implement it effectively; if the numbers don't add up or the percentages range noticeably different from other sources, reconsider this news platform.
  3. Is there a bibliography, works cited, resource tab, or other means of citation identification? Most modern media will properly represent their side of the argument and include the derivatives of this information, but watch out for those who do not.
  4. Keep the diversity of sample groups of polls, data, and statistics in mind. For example, the data in this article originates from the results of a study that explicitly practiced random sampling to gather information across all demographics, staying clear of bias.
  5. Two sides represented - ensure that an article covers multiple perspectives if arguing an opinion. The data might not be skewed but the author's tone might misinterpret the details.


Not All Media is Innately Slanted or Bias

For the betterment in your news feed, there are trusted and objective sources readily available to report the most accurate material. The culmination of impartial material, with effort, is a realistic possibility; the capacity to filter slander (if needed) is an important skill for success. Americans have a right to say that they will openly follow any news source and they might not be affected. However, in spite of profit-driven media, the everyday citizen can become educated on current events through multi-sourced news and access to raw data. No one is wrong by siding with news organizations but, for some, refining information down to the facts takes more than tuning it out.

Finding Objectivity

To stay informed with the hard facts, it is crucial to fact check your news and media outlets no matter how objective they may appear. Resources such as snopes, fact check, politifact, and open secrets all exist to help clarify information, incite the truth, and provide a more filtered news content outlet.

Thank you very much for reading my article. Please feel free to answer the poll question and comment below. Thanks!

Poll Question:

Do you trust modern media to be unbias?

See results

© 2018 Harley McCullar


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