Fake News: The Erosion of Our Trust in News

Written By: Kevin Korgaonkar

Uncovering Additional Insights in Fake News (among the 18-54 year old demographic)

Remember the good ol’ days when we didn’t have to worry about “fake news”, Internet trolls and Wikileaks?

With access to news information at our fingertips and our consumption of it at all-time highs, it’s become more important than ever that we be able to trust that the information we are seeking is accurate. However, what is (too) often the case is that with our information coming from such a wide variety of sources, we find ourselves encountering contradictory “facts” and are left wondering who or what to believe.

For some, the fallout of all of this has been the erosion of trust in our news media. Over the years here at Phoenix, we have sought to uncover insights into how the public perceives fake news, while also tracking the trustworthiness of various broadcast and cable news sources.

Interestingly, when asked how various news statements describe them, not only do one-fourth of those aged 18-54 surveyed believe that it “Completely Describes” them that they can identify real versus fake news (26%), but a similar percentage in this age group strongly believe that news organizations are purposefully producing both real and fake news (27%). News organizations should take notice, as an even higher percentage (37%) feel that the reputations of these outlets have been negatively affected by fake news.  These trends are particularly noticeable among men, with nearly one-half of the men 35-54 surveyed (47%), feeling that fake news is hurting the reputation of major news organizations.

What impact, if any, has fake news and other factors had on the trustworthiness and credibility of our news media? We tracked the trustworthiness of major broadcast and cable news sources over a four-year period.

  • CNN is the most trusted news source in both 2013 and 2017 but like most networks, endures declining trust among the female demographics, while the males have either stated an increased degree of trust or held steady in their views.

So, what’s the fallout of these findings? If perception is indeed reality, it has become clear that a segment of the general public no longer see various news media outlets as completely unbiased or trustworthy.  And, while it is not fair to say this is entirely the media’s fault, it will require news outlets to react to this changing sentiment and take tangible actions to help curb these perceptions of declining trust.

For more on our Fake News Study, click here.

Infographic

Fake News Infographic

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