A new Gallup poll provides more evidence that as Americans move further into the 21st century confidence in traditional news delivery systems of print newspapers and TV news is at “near-record” low levels — a continued erosion of 20th century models where the media chose and provided the news and decided the amount and kinds of commentary that could fit into print media and airtime:
Americans continue to express near-record-low confidence in newspapers and television news — with no more than 25% of Americans saying they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in either. These views have hardly budged since falling more than 10 percentage points from 2003-2007.
These results are from Gallup’s Annual “Confidence in Institutions” survey which found:
So the good news for newspapers and TV is: at least most people trust them a little bit more than HMOs…
The decline in trust since 2003 is also evident in a 2009 Gallup poll that asked about confidence and trust in the “mass media” more broadly. While perceptions of media bias present a viable hypothesis, Americans have not over the same period grown any more likely to say the news media are too conservative or too liberal.
No matter the cause, it is clear the media as a whole are not gaining new fans as they struggle to serve and compete with growing demand for online news, social media, and mobile platforms. The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual report on the State of the News Media, released in March, found for a third straight year, only digital and cable news sources growing in popularity, while network news, local news, and newspaper audiences shrink. These findings align with a similar 2008 Gallup poll that found cable and Internet news sources growing in popularity while all others held steady or declined.
Gallup notes that it can’t be determined how much respondents factored in online versions of newspapers and TV.
But it added this tidbit that further accentuates the tough road traditional newspapers face with young people:
While 18- to 29-year-olds express more trust in newspapers than most older Americans, Gallup polling has found they read national newspapers the least. Younger Americans also expressed more confidence than older Americans in several other institutions tested, including Congress, the medical system, and the criminal justice system, suggesting younger Americans are more confident in institutions in general.
The bottom line: business and content delivery models will have to be adapted or some companies will vanish or greatly shrink. The greatly shrinking has already begun — amid signs that some more infooutlets are on life support.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.