Trump’s last­ing im­pact

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE -

We’ve of­ten writ­ten about our con­cern about what the pub­lic reads for its news and how to prop­erly se­lect trained sources, but new polling is mak­ing us more wor­ried than ever.

Amer­i­cans’ trust and con­fi­dence in the mass me­dia “to re­port the news fully, ac­cu­rately and fairly” has dropped to its low­est level in Gallup polling his­tory, with less than a third of ci­ti­zens say­ing they have con­fi­dence in the me­dia, ac­cord­ing to a na­tion­wide poll taken Sept. 7-11, Art Swift wrote re­cently for the polling agency.

Gallup be­gan ask­ing this ques­tion in 1972, and on a yearly ba­sis since 1997. Amer­i­cans’ trust and con­fi­dence hit its high­est point in 1976, at 72 per­cent, in the wake of widely lauded ex­am­ples of in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism re­gard­ing Viet­nam and the Water­gate scan­dal. After stay­ing in the low to mid-50s through the late 1990s and into the early years of the new cen­tury, Amer­i­cans’ trust in the me­dia has fallen slowly and steadily. It has con­sis­tently been below a ma­jor­ity level since 2007.

While it is clear Amer­i­cans’ trust in the me­dia has been erod­ing over time, the elec­tion cam­paign may be the rea­son that it has fallen so sharply this year, Swift re­ported.

“With many Repub­li­can lead­ers and con­ser­va­tive pun­dits say­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton has re­ceived overly pos­i­tive me­dia at­ten­tion, while Don­ald Trump has been re­ceiv­ing un­fair or neg­a­tive at­ten­tion, this may be the prime rea­son their rel­a­tively low trust in the me­dia has evap­o­rated even more,” he sur­mised.

It is also pos­si­ble that Repub­li­cans think less of the me­dia as a re­sult of nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump’s sharp crit­i­cisms of the press. Trump has rou­tinely said he is “fight­ing the dis­hon­est and cor­rupt me­dia,” while also tak­ing the un­heard of step of re­vok­ing press cre­den­tials for a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and taunt­ing re­porters at­tempt­ing to ask him ques­tions. At most Trump ral­lies, he has made it a point to call out his trav­el­ing press so sup­port­ers can boo them.

Now, Repub­li­cans who say they have trust in the me­dia has plum­meted to 14 per­cent from 32 per­cent a year ago — eas­ily the low­est con­fi­dence among Repub­li­cans in 20 years. This “Trump ef­fect” can be seen in the fact that Democrats and in­de­pen­dents re­mained com­par­a­tively flat in their con­fi­dence lev­els, fall­ing just a few per­cent­age points a piece.

What other ef­fect could we pos­si­bly be­lieve would hap­pen when a party leader de­mo­nizes those who are tasked with pro­tect­ing ci­ti­zens from his or her over­reach?

The an­a­lyst prop­erly points out that trust in mass me­dia has slowly been erod­ing for more than a decade, how­ever, and the rise of blog­ging can­not be ig­nored. With so­cial me­dia and the in­ter­net feed­ing into our lives at an in­stan­ta­neous rate, read­ers are likely los­ing touch with trained jour­nal­ists and ab­sorb­ing more of their news from opin­ion­based writ­ers rather than ob­jec­tive sources.

With the col­lapse of news­pa­per’s fund­ing model, based sig­nif­i­cantly around fledg­ling depart­ment and big box stores, they will in­creas­ingly be forced to rely upon the fund­ing of read­ers to stay afloat into the fu­ture.

But will read­ers still turn to them in com­ing years as the trained, ob­jec­tive voice?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.