Trusting the news less … and spending more time with it

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?

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by John Olson on 09/29/2010 - 01:48 pm.

    The pivotal question here would seem to be whether or not reading blogs inside–and outside–of established media websites count.

    Obviously, since I am a reader of “Braublog,” this should count. However, if one D. Brauer has his own personal blog at WordPress or other similar venue outside of MinnPost, does that count as well?

    If I look at a YouTube clip (or other external links) embedded in “NewsCut,” does that count? Or a tweet?

    Just askin’.

  2. Submitted by Erica Mauter on 09/29/2010 - 02:23 pm.

    Maybe people are hoping something, somewhere, eventually will show up that is worth their while? Or maybe news outlets manage to, just often enough, provide something folks really like (while not completely turning them off with the user experience)? Like random reinforcement.

  3. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/30/2010 - 09:21 am.

    The constant commercials on local mainstream TV irritate me so much that I can’t spend a half hour watching an entire broadcast. Network news is, I believe, for the most part not brave enough to challenge governmental/Pentagon/Justice Department (et cetera) spinning, but they do cover the main events of the day.

    Foreign news (BBC, Al-Jazeera English, and the French, Russian, Japanese and Taiwanese, German and other broadcasts on SPNN Channel 15) plus Amy Goodman provide the debunking we sorely need.

    Internet sources like Common Dreams aggregate articles from trustworthy writers at major U.S. papers and magazines – including The Nation and American Prospect – plus original analysis from groups like Foreign Policy in Focus, AlterNet, Public Citizen, the ACLU and the Center for Media and Democracy.

    Would that there were more hours in the day.

  4. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/30/2010 - 09:23 am.

    Correction:

    BBC News in available on public TV and Amy Goodman on SPNN Cable Channel 15.

    The other foreign newscasts are shown on SPNN’s Channel 20.

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