In the strange wake of the electoral-circus, news-stations have idled along on the fumes of the post-game chit-chat between talking heads & their expert guests. The horse-race itself is over, of course, but the outcome has left the media plenty to discuss before returning to their usual celebrity gossip & faked concern for whichever Middle-Eastern country’s civilians our tax-dollars murdered that week. Of the leftover stories, one of their favorite topics of discussion is themselves — that is, the “news” media — and the genius, new theory that elections are influenced by what the news reports about them. Mind-blowing, right? In light of this brilliant discovery, reporters have investigated how “fake news” affected our election, whether Putin was somehow involved, & how censoring the internet will protect our democracy. I’m sure you all are dying to hear more about that stuff but, while the media was herding their scapegoats, I was struck by a question of my own — who even believes this garbage?
As it turns out, the answer is “not many.”
Majority Says Media Untrustworthy
According Gallup’s latest polling, when asked to rate their trust in mass media, more than 2/3rds of US adults said they had “not very much trust” or “none at all.” In fact, less than 1/10th reported having a “great deal” of trust and, combined with the 24% of folks with “a fair amount,” the grand total of people with some amount of trust in mass media only comes out to 32% — or a bit less than 1/3rd, which is a new all-time low.
Another survey shows a solid 40% report either “none” or “very little” trust in television news, next to a mere 21% with a “great deal” or “quite a lot.” While trust in major media-outlets has eroded in all age groups, polling suggests the charge away from mainstream news has largely been driven by millennials. One of the most interesting numbers, however, has less to do with age and more to do with party identification…
Most Democrats Say Media is Trustworthy
Among independents, 30% had some level of trust in the mass media, while only 14% of republicans did — compared to previous decades, both figures are fantastically low. A majority of democrats, however, continue to see mass media as a trustworthy source, with 51% reporting either “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of trust.
Media executives ought to send the democrats a basket of cookies or something as thanks for saving their credibility from drowning below the 30% mark, somewhere next to congress’ approval ratings! Or perhaps democrats are just paying the media back for ignoring Bernie Sanders & pretending John Podesta’s emails didn’t exist — who knows?
Trust of the Media, by Age
Aside from party membership, there was one other demographic divide that stretched between the mainstream-media’s faithful & their infidels — age. According to the Gallup data, just 1-in-4 people between ages 18 – 49 reported some level of confidence in the accuracy of traditional news sources, while almost 40% of people aged 50 & over (or about 2-in-5) reported the same. So, if any of you are looking for a buddy who’ll watch news-shows with you, your best bet ( statistically speaking ) will be to pick out an older-looking person with an “I’m With Her” bumper-sticker…
[EDIT: In response to feedback I’ve received, I’d like to clarify that my intention here wasn’t to pick on our older sisters/brothers/others & I apologize if I seemed to paint the 50yrs+ crew with a broad brush. When writing on polling data, it can be tricky finding the right balance of generalizing trends & honoring variance & individuality. Since I’m here, I’ll also point out the majority of the 50yrs+ group (62%) is on the same page as the majority of the 18-49yrs.]
The Time Has Come
For Information Democracy
As a citizen-journalist & proletariat-poet, my favorite thing about this data is that, while CNN & company become “old news,” (ha!) independent media may have the chance to replace them with new & innovative frameworks for distributing news & information. If the people of the United States continue to defend internet neutrality, there will be nothing to stop journalists & educators from building outlets which are more accountable, accessible, & democratic than the channels of corruption & villainy the corporate-model has produced.
Or such is my hope, at least…
In any case, it seems the “mainstream” media is no longer mainstream and we therefore have no choice but to rename them. The Previous Press, perhaps? Jurassic Journalism? Tell me your ideas in the comments!
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