World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Why only 6 percent of Americans trust media

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Why only 6 percent of Americans trust media

Overall, only six percent of Americans say they “have a great deal of confidence” in the press, putting it on par with Congress (four percent) and much lower than other institutions, such as the military (the highest at 48 percent), the scientific community (at 35 percent) and the Supreme Court (at 26 percent), according to the poll.

The issue of trust in media will be discussed at WAN-IFRA's 23rd World Editors Forum in Cartagena, Colombia, this June. 

When asked why people distrust the media, bias (26 percent) and inaccuracy (25 percent) were the most cited reasons. Four in 10 Americans recall a specific incident that made them trust the media less.

The most important factors that contribute to trust in the media are accuracy (85 percent), followed by completeness (77 percent), transparency (68 percent), balance (66 percent) and presentation (48 percent). For digital news readers, not having ad interference is key (63 percent), as well as loading time (63 percent), and working well on a mobile phone (60 percent). 

The poll also found that people trust different types of news by different criteria. For example, the use of experts and documents are valued more importantly in domestic issues than lifestyle news (76 percent vs. 48 percent), and people want their political news to be more concise than sports news (80 percent vs. 60 percent). 

While 87 percent of those polled said they use Facebook to get news, only 12 percent place high trust on the content of that platform.

Demographics, race and socioeconomic factors also affect trust level. Americans with higher incomes and more education are more likely to place greater importance on general concepts traditionally associated with trust, such as accuracy, completeness, balance, and transparency. Minorities value seeing stories about their own communities and people like them in the reporting. 

Trust is important for media organizations, not only because it is the foundation of the business, but it is also good for business. The poll showed that people who trust the media more tend to follow the news (40 percent vs. 26 percent), share it with friends (55 percent vs. 32 percent) and pay for a subscription (23 percent vs. 12 percent).

Read the full report here.


Chia Lun Huang


2016-04-19 16:21

Author information

The World Editors Forum is the organisation within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (, launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.

The 71st World News Media Congress, the 26th World Editors Forum and the 3rd Women in News Summit took place from 1 - 3 June 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland.

In this blog, WAN-IFRA provides previews, interviews, summaries of the presentations and other useful information about the Congress.

Participants were also very active on Twitter throughout the event under the hashtag #wnmc19.

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