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Americans Have Broad Trust in Media in General

February 14, 2012

NEW YORK, Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Looking back to the 1950s, the way Americans got their news was pretty simple – it was either their local newspaper or one of the three nightly newscasts. Today, there are a myriad of ways to get news – online news sites, on one’s phone, cable television, blogs, and, still local newspapers and nightly newscasts. But with all these different choices, do people trust that each will get them the news fairly and accurately? Overall, the answer is yes.

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When we look at trust in general, majorities of Americans (between 60% and 73%) say they trust seven different media outlets to get them news fairly and accurately. But the difference is in how much trust they have; while three-quarters of U.S. adults (73%) trust their local TV news, less than one-quarter (22%) have a lot of trust in it and half (51%) have some trust. Seven in ten Americans (69%) trust their local newspapers, but only 18% have a lot of trust.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Looking at some other media seven in ten Americans trust radio and Internet news and information sites (69% each) to get them news fairly and accurately, but for both, only 14% have a lot of trust while over half (55%) have some trust. Just over three in five trust cable TV news (64%) and network TV news (61%) but, for both, only 15% say they have a lot of trust in them and three in five (60%) trust national newspapers, with 16% having a lot of trust.

Fair and unbiased news

While the different types of media are all looked at in a mostly positive light, there are some mixed results when we look at specific media outlets. Three in ten Americans say that ABC (63%), NBC (63%), CNN (61%), the Associated Press (59%), and PBS (59%) all give news that is fair and unbiased all the time or occasionally. But, like with the media in general, the public leans towards occasionally, rather than all the time as three in five (28%) say PBS is fair and unbiased all the time, while just one in five says the same for the other four media outlets. Over half of U.S. adults say FOX News, (54%), Yahoo News (53%), MSNBC (52%) and CNBC (52%) provide fair and unbiased news all the time or occasionally, and half say the same about The Wall Street Journal (50%) and Time (50%). Just under half say The New York Times (48%) and Reuters (48%) provide news that is fair and unbiased; about two in five say the same about The Washington Post (42%), NPR (41%), Newsweek/The Daily Beast (39%) and one-third about the Huffington Post (33%).

But, it’s not that these on the lower end of the list are not trusted, it is, rather, that they are not as well known so many more Americans do not have an opinion of them one way or another. If we look at those who are seen as rarely or never giving news that is fair and unbiased, over one-third (36%) say that applies to FOX News, while three in ten say MSNBC (31%), Huffington Post (31%), CNBC (29%), The New York Times (29%), The Washington Post (29%), and Newsweek/The Daily Beast (29%).

In this election year, Americans will be getting their campaign information from these various media outlets. In that vein, it is interesting to note that out of the 17 different media outlets, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to think that 15 news providers are giving them news that is fair and unbiased. Republicans are only more likely than Democrats to think that about two news providers – FOX News (75% vs. 39%) and The Wall Street Journal (51% vs. 50%).

So What?

Like everything else, the media is a business that needs to make money and show investors profits. And, as the number of news outlets continues to grow, providers of information are increasingly out to one-up each other as the first with that information. The large number of news providers also means that the providers have to find new, and sometimes sensational, ways to get eyes and ears to their outlet.

                                                                                      TABLE 1
                                                                              TRUST IN TYPES OF MEDIA
                                       "How much trust do you have that each of the following will get you the news fairly and accurately?"
                                       ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Base: All adults
    ----------------
                                              TRUST              A lot of            Some                DO NOT              Not very          No trust            Not
                                              (NET)               trust             trust             TRUST (NET)           much trust          at all            sure
                                               ----               -----             -----              ----------           ----------          ------            ----
                    %                           %                   %                 %                    %                    %                 %
                   ---                         ---                 ---               ---                  ---                  ---               ---
    Local TV News                                        73               22                 51                     23                 17                6                 4
    -------------                                       ---              ---                ---                    ---                ---              ---               ---
    Radio                                                69               14                 55                     25                 19                7                 6
    -----                                               ---              ---                ---                    ---                ---              ---               ---
    Internet News and information
     sites                                               69               14                 55                     26                 19                7                 5
    -----------------------------                       ---              ---                ---                    ---                ---              ---               ---
    Local Newspapers                                     69               18                 51                     27                 19                8                 4
    ----------------                                    ---              ---                ---                    ---                ---              ---               ---
    Cable TV News                                        64               15                 49                     30                 21                9                 6
    -------------                                       ---              ---                ---                    ---                ---              ---               ---
    Network TV News                                      61               15                 46                     35                 20               15                 4
    ---------------                                     ---              ---                ---                    ---                ---              ---               ---
    National Newspapers                                  60               16                 45                     34                 22               12                 6
    -------------------                                 ---              ---                ---                    ---                ---              ---               ---
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;
    ------------------------------------------------------

                                                        TABLE 2
                                   TRUST IN TYPES OF MEDIA - BY PARTY AND GENERATION
         "How much trust do you have that each of the following will get you the news fairly and accurately?"
                                       Percent saying "A lot of trust/Some trust"
                                       ------------------------------------------
    Base: All adults
    ----------------
                                              TRUST                          Generation                  Political Party
                                              (NET)
                                               ----
                  Echo                  Gen X      Baby    Matures     Rep.       Dem.         Ind.
                 Boomers              (36-47)    Boomers     (67+)
                 (18-35)              (48-66)
                 ------                ------
                    %                     %         %         %         %          %             %                %
                   ---                   ---       ---       ---       ---        ---           ---              ---
    Local TV News                           73         68       77         77         72              70               83     72
    -------------                          ---        ---      ---        ---        ---             ---              ---    ---
    Radio                                   69         65       71         73         67              72               74     66
    -----                                  ---        ---      ---        ---        ---             ---              ---    ---
    Internet News and information
     sites                                  69         66       68         73         66              66               78      6
    -----------------------------          ---        ---      ---        ---        ---             ---              ---    ---
    Local Newspapers                        69         67       70         72         63              62               82     67
    ----------------                       ---        ---      ---        ---        ---             ---              ---    ---
    Cable TV News                           64         56       68         67         71              64               72     62
    -------------                          ---        ---      ---        ---        ---             ---              ---    ---
    Network TV News                         61         62       57         63         59              47               79     61
    ---------------                        ---        ---      ---        ---        ---             ---              ---    ---
    National Newspapers                     60         64       58         61         52              46               77     60
    -------------------                    ---        ---      ---        ---        ---             ---              ---    ---
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;

                                                                                                               TABLE 3
                                                                                                        FAIR AND UNBIASED NEWS
                                            "Thinking now of some specific media outlets, how often do you believe the following news providers give you news that is fair and unbiased?"
                                            ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Base: All adults
    ----------------
                                                      All of the time/               All the               Occasionally                    Rarely/                Rarely               Never                 Not sure/
                                                        Occasionally                  time                                               Never (NET)                                                            Not
                                                           (NET)                                                                                                                                             applicable
                                                            ----                                                                                                                                             ----------
                       %                                     %                          %                        %                            %                     %                    %
                      ---                                   ---                        ---                      ---                          ---                   ---                  ---
    NBC                                                                      63              18                                45                      28                   15                  13                           10
    ---                                                                     ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    ABC                                                                      63              19                                44                      27                   16                  11                           11
    ---                                                                     ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    CNN                                                                      61              20                                41                      26                   14                  12                           12
    ---                                                                     ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    Associated Press                                                         59              20                                40                      22                   12                  10                           19
    ----------------                                                        ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    PBS                                                                      59              28                                31                      23                   11                  12                           18
    ---                                                                     ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    FOX News                                                                 54              20                                34                      36                   17                  19                            9
    --------                                                                ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    Yahoo News                                                               53              11                                42                      20                   11                   9                           28
    ----------                                                              ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    MSNBC                                                                    52              16                                37                      31                   15                  16                           17
    -----                                                                   ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    CNBC                                                                     52              15                                37                      29                   14                  15                           19
    ----                                                                    ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    The Wall Street Journal                                                  50              15                                35                      25                   13                  12                           25
    -----------------------                                                 ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    Time                                                                     50              14                                36                      27                   14                  12                           23
    ----                                                                    ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    The New York Times                                                       48              14                                34                      29                   14                  16                           23
    ------------------                                                      ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    Reuters                                                                  48              16                                32                      21                   11                  10                           31
    -------                                                                 ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    The Washington Post                                                      42              10                                32                      29                   15                  14                           29
    -------------------                                                     ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    NPR                                                                      41              18                                23                      28                   12                  16                           31
    ---                                                                     ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    Newsweek/The Daily Beast                                                 39               9                                31                      29                   14                  14                           32
    ------------------------                                                ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    Huffington Post                                                          33               7                                26                      31                   14                  17                           36
    ---------------                                                         ---             ---                               ---                     ---                  ---                 ---                          ---
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;
    ------------------------------------------------------

                                                          TABLE 4
                                      FAIR AND UNBIASED NEWS - BY PARTY AND EDUCATION
    "Thinking now of some specific media outlets, how often do you believe the following news providers give you news that is fair and unbiased?"
                                     Percentage saying "All of the time/Occasionally"
                                     ------------------------------------------------
    Base: All adults
    ----------------
                                                     All of the time/                           Education                 Political Party
                                                       Occasionally
                                                           (NET)
                                                           ----
                     H.S.                        Some       College     Post       Rep.        Dem.      Ind.
                    or less                     College     Graduate  Graduate
                    -------                     -------     --------  --------
                       %                           %            %         %          %           %         %       %
                      ---                         ---          ---       ---        ---         ---       ---     ---
    NBC                                                 63        60        64          65          68      48      81               63
    ---                                                ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    ABC                                                 63        59        66          64          65      49      78               64
    ---                                                ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    CNN                                                 61        58        61          66          70      48      77               63
    ---                                                ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    Associated Press                                    59        52        60          68          73      55      69               60
    ----------------                                   ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    PBS                                                 59        53        59          67          71      44      72               64
    ---                                                ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    FOX News                                            54        63        53          46          35      75      39               55
    --------                                           ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    Yahoo News                                          53        50        55          55          56      49      58               56
    ----------                                         ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    MSNBC                                               52        49        55          53          57      39      71               50
    -----                                              ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    CNBC                                                52        49        51          55          60      41      66               51
    ----                                               ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    The Wall Street Journal                             50        41        49          64          66      51      50               55
    -----------------------                            ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    Time                                                50        42        50          59          68      36      65               53
    ----                                               ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    The New York Times                                  48        41        49          56          59      33      64               50
    ------------------                                 ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    Reuters                                             48        38        47          62          67      45      50               53
    -------                                            ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    The Washington Post                                 42        34        44          53          56      36      54               42
    -------------------                                ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    NPR                                                 41        32        43          51          58      26      51               48
    ---                                                ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    Newsweek/The Daily Beast                            39        33        41          46          51      29      52               39
    ------------------------                           ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    Huffington Post                                     33        30        35          35          35      20      45               35
    ---------------                                    ---       ---       ---         ---         ---     ---     ---              ---
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;
    ------------------------------------------------------

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 16 and 23, 2012 among 2,016 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41215
Q755, 760

The Harris Poll® #15, February 14, 2012
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Youth, and Public Relations Research, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.com

SOURCE Harris Interactive


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