Gallup’s annual survey on mass media trust is out, and distrust is at an all-time high (57 percent). The silver lining, such as it is: the result is relatively stable since 2005, but other institutions — the military, organized religion, public schools, the Presidency — have seen steeper declines in the past year. (All but the schools still rank ahead of the media, however.)
But compare Gallup’s result to a two-week-old survey: The Pew Research Center’s that showed Americans spending more time with the news.
Are we so self-loathing that we spend more time wallowing in distrust? Or are we so committed to information that we spend more time hunting for sources we like? Something else?
The Pew survey credited online for the time-spent hike, so it’s tempting to say people were merely avoiding the mass for the Internet’s copious niches. But Gallup’s survey doesn’t indicate that: in the section on sources, the Top 16 (anything over 2 percent) are nearly all mass, or mass repackagers.
(Yahoo and Google rank high, so I suppose the search engines could be leading toward niches and away from mass, though that’s not so true of Google News, at least on my searches, or Yahoo News for that matter.)
So what’s going on here? Are you spending more time with mass media that you trust less, and if so, why? Or is there some other personal dynamic that explains the paired results?