Americans Have Broad Trust in Media in General

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – February 14, 2012 – Looking back to the 1950s, the way Americans got their news was pretty simple – it was either their local newspaper or one of the three nightly newscasts. Today, there are a myriad of ways to get news – online news sites, on one’s phone, cable television, blogs, and, still local newspapers and nightly newscasts. But with all these different choices, do people trust that each will get them the news fairly and accurately? Overall, the answer is yes.

    When we look at trust in general, majorities of Americans (between 60% and 73%) say they trust seven different media outlets to get them news fairly and accurately. But the difference is in how much trust they have; while three-quarters of U.S. adults (73%) trust their local TV news, less than one-quarter (22%) have a lot of trust in it and half (51%) have some trust. Seven in ten Americans (69%) trust their local newspapers, but only 18% have a lot of trust.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

    Looking at some other media seven in ten Americans trust radio and Internet news and information sites (69% each) to get them news fairly and accurately, but for both, only 14% have a lot of trust while over half (55%) have some trust. Just over three in five trust cable TV news (64%) and network TV news (61%) but, for both, only 15% say they have a lot of trust in them and three in five (60%) trust national newspapers, with 16% having a lot of trust.

    Fair and unbiased news

    While the different types of media are all looked at in a mostly positive light, there are some mixed results when we look at specific media outlets. Three in ten Americans say that ABC (63%), NBC (63%), CNN (61%), the Associated Press (59%), and PBS (59%) all give news that is fair and unbiased all the time or occasionally. But, like with the media in general, the public leans towards occasionally, rather than all the time as three in five (28%) say PBS is fair and unbiased all the time, while just one in five says the same for the other four media outlets. Over half of U.S. adults say FOX News, (54%), Yahoo News (53%), MSNBC (52%) and CNBC (52%) provide fair and unbiased news all the time or occasionally, and half say the same about The Wall Street Journal (50%) and Time (50%). Just under half say The New York Times (48%) and Reuters (48%) provide news that is fair and unbiased; about two in five say the same about The Washington Post (42%), NPR (41%), Newsweek/The Daily Beast (39%) and one-third about the Huffington Post (33%).

    But, it’s not that these on the lower end of the list are not trusted, it is, rather, that they are not as well known so many more Americans do not have an opinion of them one way or another. If we look at those who are seen as rarely or never giving news that is fair and unbiased, over one-third (36%) say that applies to FOX News, while three in ten say MSNBC (31%), Huffington Post (31%), CNBC (29%), The New York Times (29%), The Washington Post (29%), and Newsweek/The Daily Beast (29%).

    In this election year, Americans will be getting their campaign information from these various media outlets. In that vein, it is interesting to note that out of the 17 different media outlets, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to think that 15 news providers are giving them news that is fair and unbiased. Republicans are only more likely than Democrats to think that about two news providers – FOX News (75% vs. 39%) and The Wall Street Journal (51% vs. 50%).

    So What?

    Like everything else, the media is a business that needs to make money and show investors profits. And, as the number of news outlets continues to grow, providers of information are increasingly out to one-up each other as the first with that information. The large number of news providers also means that the providers have to find new, and sometimes sensational, ways to get eyes and ears to their outlet.

     

    TABLE 1

    TRUST IN TYPES OF MEDIA

    How much trust do you have that each of the following will get you the news fairly and accurately?

    Base: All adults

    TRUST (NET)

    A lot of trust

    Some trust

    DO NOT TRUST (NET)

    Not very much trust

    No trust at all

    Not sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Local TV News

    73

    22

    51

    23

    17

    6

    4

    Radio

    69

    14

    55

    25

    19

    7

    6

    Internet News and information sites

    69

    14

    55

    26

    19

    7

    5

    Local Newspapers

    69

    18

    51

    27

    19

    8

    4

    Cable TV News

    64

    15

    49

    30

    21

    9

    6

    Network TV News

    61

    15

    46

    35

    20

    15

    4

    National Newspapers

    60

    16

    45

    34

    22

    12

    6

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;

     

     


     

    TABLE 2

    TRUST IN TYPES OF MEDIA – BY PARTY AND GENERATION

    How much trust do you have that each of the following will get you the news fairly and accurately?

    Percent saying A lot of trust/Some trust

    Base: All adults

    TRUST (NET)

    Generation

    Political Party

    Echo

    Boomers

    (18-35)

    Gen X

    (36-47)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (48-66)

    Matures

    (67+)

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Local TV News

    73

    68

    77

    77

    72

    70

    83

    72

    Radio

    69

    65

    71

    73

    67

    72

    74

    66

    Internet News and information sites

    69

    66

    68

    73

    66

    66

    78

    6

    Local Newspapers

    69

    67

    70

    72

    63

    62

    82

    67

    Cable TV News

    64

    56

    68

    67

    71

    64

    72

    62

    Network TV News

    61

    62

    57

    63

    59

    47

    79

    61

    National Newspapers

    60

    64

    58

    61

    52

    46

    77

    60

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;

     

     

    TABLE 3

    FAIR AND UNBIASED NEWS

    Thinking now of some specific media outlets, how often do you believe the following news providers give you news that is fair and unbiased?

    Base: All adults

    All of the time/ Occasionally (NET)

    All the time

    Occasionally

    Rarely/ Never (NET)

    Rarely

    Never

    Not sure/ Not applicable

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    NBC

    63

    18

    45

    28

    15

    13

    10

    ABC

    63

    19

    44

    27

    16

    11

    11

    CNN

    61

    20

    41

    26

    14

    12

    12

    Associated Press

    59

    20

    40

    22

    12

    10

    19

    PBS

    59

    28

    31

    23

    11

    12

    18

    FOX News

    54

    20

    34

    36

    17

    19

    9

    Yahoo News

    53

    11

    42

    20

    11

    9

    28

    MSNBC

    52

    16

    37

    31

    15

    16

    17

    CNBC

    52

    15

    37

    29

    14

    15

    19

    The Wall Street Journal

    50

    15

    35

    25

    13

    12

    25

    Time

    50

    14

    36

    27

    14

    12

    23

    The New York Times

    48

    14

    34

    29

    14

    16

    23

    Reuters

    48

    16

    32

    21

    11

    10

    31

    The Washington Post

    42

    10

    32

    29

    15

    14

    29

    NPR

    41

    18

    23

    28

    12

    16

    31

    Newsweek/The Daily Beast

    39

    9

    31

    29

    14

    14

    32

    Huffington Post

    33

    7

    26

    31

    14

    17

    36

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;

     

     

    TABLE 4

    FAIR AND UNBIASED NEWS – BY PARTY AND EDUCATION

    Thinking now of some specific media outlets, how often do you believe the following news providers give you news that is fair and unbiased?

    Percentage saying All of the time/Occasionally

    Base: All adults

    All of the time/ Occasionally (NET)

    Education

    Political Party

    H.S. or less

    Some College

    College Graduate

    Post Graduate

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    NBC

    63

    60

    64

    65

    68

    48

    81

    63

    ABC

    63

    59

    66

    64

    65

    49

    78

    64

    CNN

    61

    58

    61

    66

    70

    48

    77

    63

    Associated Press

    59

    52

    60

    68

    73

    55

    69

    60

    PBS

    59

    53

    59

    67

    71

    44

    72

    64

    FOX News

    54

    63

    53

    46

    35

    75

    39

    55

    Yahoo News

    53

    50

    55

    55

    56

    49

    58

    56

    MSNBC

    52

    49

    55

    53

    57

    39

    71

    50

    CNBC

    52

    49

    51

    55

    60

    41

    66

    51

    The Wall Street Journal

    50

    41

    49

    64

    66

    51

    50

    55

    Time

    50

    42

    50

    59

    68

    36

    65

    53

    The New York Times

    48

    41

    49

    56

    59

    33

    64

    50

    Reuters

    48

    38

    47

    62

    67

    45

    50

    53

    The Washington Post

    42

    34

    44

    53

    56

    36

    54

    42

    NPR

    41

    32

    43

    51

    58

    26

    51

    48

    Newsweek/The Daily Beast

    39

    33

    41

    46

    51

    29

    52

    39

    Huffington Post

    33

    30

    35

    35

    35

    20

    45

    35

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 16 and 23, 2012 among 2,016 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

     

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J41215

    Q755, 760

     

     

    The Harris Poll ® #15, February 14, 2012

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Youth, and Public Relations Research, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.