September 28, 2011

Press Widely Criticized, but Trusted More than Other Information Sources

66%

Just 25% say news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 66% say stories are often inaccurate.

Negative opinions about the performance of news organizations now equal or surpass all-time highs on nine of 12 core measures the Pew Research Center has been tracking since 1985. The widely-shared belief that news stories are inaccurate cuts to the press’ core mission: just 25% say that in general news organizations get the facts straight while 66% say stories are often inaccurate. As recently as four years ago, 39% of people said news organizations mostly get the facts straight and 53% said stories are often inaccurate. However, these bleak findings are put into some perspective by the fact that news organizations are more trusted sources of information than are many other institutions, including government and business.

Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say they have a lot, or some, trust in information they get from local news organizations, and 59% say they trust information from national news organizations. By comparison, about half say they have a lot, or some, trust in information provided by their state government (51%) and the Obama administration (50%). Smaller percentages of respondents trust information from federal agencies (44%), business corporations (41%), Congress (37%) or candidates running for office (29%).

Overall, television continues to be the public’s main source for national and international news. Currently, 66% say they get most of their news from television, while 43% cite the internet as their main news source. While this is little changed from last year, over the long term the gap between TV and the internet has narrowed: Four years ago, roughly three times as many people cited TV as did the internet as their main source of national and international news (74% vs. 24%). Read More