Trust in news has been in the news in the US since the election last month. Facebook and other social media sources are dealing with the problem of widespread fake news stories. Some of these may have affected views and how some citizens voted.
Our own politicians repeatedly stating the media can’t be trusted doesn’t help. Our president-elect, Donald Trump, has particularly bashed journalists and most US media (mostly for not covering him favorably). In my opinion, it’s dangerous and alarming for the person in the highest office in the land to tell citizens their news sources aren’t trustworthy.
Nevertheless, all of the above plus a few other factors have led to Americans having a low level of trust in news. Reuters did a study comparing various nations’ trust in news. Finland came out on top with 65% of respondents stating they trusted their news. Meanwhile, the US came in at 33%.
You will find more statistics at Statista
Statista’s page states the trust levels are higher in more affluent Western European nations. Well-funded public broadcasters is supposedly one reason why. Of course, most countries outside of the US have a government-funded public broadcaster. I assume some are better funded than others?
Still, the US does have PBS and NPR, our non-commercial television and radio networks. Both carry news (PBS’ “NewsHour”, various NPR shows), and do a pretty decent job. That’s despite not having the budget of commercial broadcasters like CNN. Both via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) receive a small amount of government-provided funds—$445 million in 2016.
However, I’m not sure what the future of CPB funding will look like. Trump’s administration is heavily business friendly and deregulation-minded. (One advisor even wants to disband the FCC!) On top of that, the GOP’s tried to cut funding for the CPB for years.
I’m not sure how to improve Americans’ trust in news. For now, I’d suggest supporting quality journalism: subscribe to a reputable digital news source/newspaper, donate to PBS/NPR, etc.