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Trust in the News Media

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Feb 19, 2019
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Trust in the News Media

While the term “fake news” is not a new one--- it has origins in yellow journalism and propaganda--- it is a term that the Trump administration has turned into a household name and a go-to catch phrase to rile boisterous crowds. While the term continues to be used in the U.S., and some say misused, it is banned in the U.K. Late last year, the U.K. government banned the term urging the government instead to use terms such as “misinformation” or “disinformation.” The government cited the term was poorly defined and misleading, often conflating various false information, from honest mistakes to foreign interference, The Telegraph reported https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/10/22/government-bans-phrase-fake-news/.

But the popularity of the term perhaps reveals something else brewing: distrust in the news media. Why?

Is the news media biased? Has the news media lost its credibility? If so, how and what are some examples? Do you find that some news organizations (from print to TV to news wires) have lost credibility over others? Can our faith in news media be restored? If so, how and what are some examples?

Last week, a BBC cameraman was pushed to the ground at a Trump rally by a man watching Trump point to the news media behind the crowd and say, “Have you seen a group of more dishonest people? They are fake news; they are the enemies of the people." In an Op-Ed about the incident last week, BBC North America editor wrote that the incident was “unsurprising” but “what is shocking is that my reaction should be like that - because surely it can never be right that a person going about doing their job, in a country which cherishes the First Amendment and the rights of a free press, is pushed to the ground. But it is an incident that's been coming for a long time.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47219957

A 2017 Pew report showed that 87% of Republicans and 53% of Democrats think that news organizations tend to favor one side when reporting on political and social topics. http://www.journalism.org/2017/05/10/americans-attitudes-about-the-news-media-deeply-divided-along-partisan-lines/pj_2017-05-10_media-attitudes_a-07/. Of those who do not trust the news media, “bias, spin, and agendas” are at the top of the main reasons according to research by https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/our-research/bias-bullshit-and-lies-audience-perspectives-low-trust-media.

“In many countries, particularly the U.S. and U.K., some media outlets are seen as taking sides, encouraging an increasingly polarized set of opinions. Others are criticized for not calling out lies, keeping information back, or creating a false equivalence of partisan opinions that are obscuring facts and understanding,” the researchers report.

Is the media biased or are readers biased?

For more research, go to:
https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/trust-in-media-down.php
http://www.journalism.org/2017/05/10/americans-attitudes-about-the-news-media-deeply-divided-along-partisan-lines/pj_2017-05-10_media-attitudes_a-07/
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/upshot/biased-news-media-or-biased-readers-an-experiment-on-trust.html

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