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Trust in media hits lowest level in United States: Survey

Trust between media organizations and consumers has hit the lowest level in the United States, says a new survey.

The survey, published by Oxford University and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said,  “We’ve been through a very dark time and much of the public recognize that news organizations have often been the ones shining light in that darkness.”

It found out that Americans are not only distrustful of traditional media outlets, but consumption of the news has waned since former president Donald Trump left office in January.

Rasmus Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute said, “It’s very clear in our research, in country after country, in age group after age group, that large majorities want journalism to try to be neutral.”

The report, for the Digital News Report 2021, is conducted based on surveys covering 46 markets and more than half the world’s population.

Interest in news consumption generally is also slipping in the US, according to the study, mainly for right-leaning customers, due to the lack of the ‘Trump bump.”

Last year, 74% of respondents, who identified themselves as right-aligned” said they were very interested in the news, but that number dropped to 57% now that Trump is gone.

“Our data show signs that many former Trump supporters may be switching away from news altogether,” said the report. “Almost all of this fall in interest came from those on the political right.” 

The new media report also pointed out to cable news networks such as Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC as fueling distrust through polarization on political topics. 

Only 29% of US respondents agreed that most news can be trusted a majority of the time. Some 44%, however, strongly disagreed, and 27% neither agreed or disagreed. 

Some 75% of respondents, on the right, said media coverage of their views is “unfair” and only 16% believed it is fair.

And only 34% of people on the “left” feel the same way about their views being represented, while 51% say they are fairly represented.

This is while, some countries saw a rise in media interest with people looking for the latest information during the coronavirus pandemic, the study said.

There has also been an overall decline in interest in Spain, the United Kingdom (UK), Italy, and Australia from previous years. 

Finland is the country with the highest percentage of trust for the media, the report said.

Some 65% of respondents in Finland said they trust their news a majority of the time, which is a 9% increase from the previous year. 

Trust in traditional media was visibly declining a decade ago, and has now, for many millions of Americans, disappeared entirely.

A clear majority of people across the world say news outlets should reflect a range of views and try to be neutral, said the report.

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