OP-ED: U.S. RANKS LAST AMONG 46 COUNTRIES IN TRUST IN MEDIA; will mainstream media course correct

Just 29% of people surveyed in the U.S. said they trust the news, compared to 45% in Canada and 54% in Brazil, according to a Reuters Institute report. Will those who claim to be objective stop lying?

The United States ranks last in media trust — at 29% — among 92,000 news consumers surveyed in 46 countries, a report released Wednesday found. This is worse than Poland, worse than the Philippines, and worse than Peru (Edmonds)

The annual digital news report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford also found some (though small) improvement in trust in nearly all the countries surveyed but not in the U.S. where the low rating was low continuously from year to year.

One explanation, for the low trust in the mainstream media, though not the only one, is the extreme political polarization in the U.S. This study, like many others, found extremely high levels of distrust — 75% of those who identify as being on the right thought coverage of their views is unfair. Local news, both print, and broadcast fared better than national news. However, the findings for struggling local print outlets were not all good (Edmonds).

Interest in local news and willingness to pay for it was not strong. According to the Reuters Institute report, only 21% in the U.S. said that they pay for news online. Of those who do pay for news online, 31% said they pay for The New York Times, 24% for The Washington Post, and only 23% for a local or regional outlet.

The most popular local news topic was the weather (62%) with other usually popular topics lagging; politics (33%) and education (16%). Those surveyed indicated a preference for local broadcast (52%) as a source over traditional newspapers (16%).

Cable TV is the worst, according to the report from Oxford University and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The 164-page report said, “Cable news channels Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC have some of the highest levels of distrust.”

A ONE-MAN SHOW

As is obvious this data shows us that the mainstream establishment media in the U.S. is losing favor, and rightfully so, with the American public. The platforms that have been traditionally expected to give us (the general public) information have devolved into nothing more than neo-propaganda. The most developed, free, and prosperous nation in the world also distrusts those who are supposed to be objective arbitrators of the truth and defenders of democracy less than any other country in the free world.

The report noted something extremely telling; what has been dubbed the “Trump bump” gave, otherwise dying media outlets, much-needed help gaining readers and viewers. But the report also noted that Trump’s departure from the White House had driven people away from the news, especially right-leaning consumers apparently disinterested in Joe Biden.

“While many remain very engaged, we find signs that others are turning away from the news media and in some cases avoiding news altogether. Interest in news has fallen sharply in the United States following the election of President Biden — especially with right-leaning groups,” the report said.

This is revealing and I believe it illustrates the consequences of sensationalized media. Much of the mainstream media (both right and left) built their coverage, so-called “reporting”, and the content of their programs on one man—President Donald Trump. The hate or love for this man drove so-called news coverage the last five or so years—those who hated him smeared him and his supporters every chance they got and those who loved him did all they could to protect him and defend his supporters. In my view, neither extreme is proper for any outlet (print or otherwise) that purports to be a source of news.

In a time when common people need the truest and the most complete information elites on the east and the west coast instead decide to push narrative instead of news; as media is corporatized and reporter autonomy is slowly eroded. This is a sad indictment on what has been historically known as the “first draft of history”; such is no longer true. Instead of being the first draft of history much of the mainstream, establishment press is party propaganda dressed up as objective truth.

THE INTERNET’S ALTERNATIVE SOURCES

Despite the vacuum of truth there are voices on the internet that are breaking through via YouTube and other platforms; reorienting and serving consumers who are seeking information but find a deficit when they turn on CNN, CBS, Fox or MSNBC. For instance; Joe Rogan’s podcast covers viewpoints from all sides reaching an audience of millions (at times garnering more viewers than a CNN primetime show). Dave Rubin reports on YouTube from a classical liberal perspective and on the right, Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, and Candace Owens boldly critique the mainstream’s fake narratives.

These are a few examples of a growing media industry outside of the ivory tower elitism that has consumed modern media. What makes a Dave Rubin different from a Don Lemon is that Dave, Ben, Joe, Candace or even Tim Poole don’t hide their obvious personal opinions under the cloak of objectivity nor do they have the privilege to hide behind a million-dollar corporate brand name. Instead, their audiences are aware of their opinion and bias because they are truthful about it. They have the ability to present the who, what, when, where, and why separate from their opinion. When you watch Dave Rubin or Time Poole you can be assured that the facts are being reported and that facts aren’t being misrepresented or twisted to fit the hosts’ particular opinion.

I don’t agree with every single YouTubers view all the time but I do know, for the most part, when it’s their opinion or when it’s an objective fact. Perhaps, Poole, Rubin, or Rogan are able to give us facts that are overtly distinguishable from their opinion because they don’t have an agenda. Yes, I know Tim Poole, for example, is more liberal than Candace Owens but he ensures that he gives his opinions before or after he reports on a news story. Much like an old-school newspaper, he has the hard news stories and an editorial component, and they are clearly divided. Why can’t we get back to this? Journalists are to report the who, what, when, where (and at times how) but the why should be left to editorials and op-eds—not covertly embedded.