We have often discussed the increasing bias and advocacy in major media in the United States. While cable networks have long catered to political audiences on the left or right, mainstream newspapers and networks now openly frame news to fit a political narrative. With the exception of Fox and a couple of other smaller news outlets, that slant is heavily to the left. What is most striking about this universal shift toward advocacy journalism (including at journalism schools) is that there is no evidence that it is a sustainable approach for the media as an industry. While outfits like NPR allow reporters to actually participate in protests and the New York Times sheds conservative opinions, the new poll shows a sharp and worrisome division in trust in the media. Not surprisingly given the heavy slant of American media, Democrats are largely happy with and trusting of the media. Conversely, Republicans and independents are not. The question is whether the mainstream media can survive and flourish by writing off over half of the country.
The new study from the non-partisan Pew Research Center shows a massive decline in trust among Republicans. Five years ago, 70 percent of Republicans said they had at least some trust in national news organizations. In 2021, that trust is down to just 35 percent.
Conversely, and not surprisingly, 78 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents saying they have "a lot" or "some" trust in the media. When you just ask liberal Democrats, it jumps to 83 percent.
For those looking for echo-journalism that reaffirms their assumptions, liberals are more likely to realize such confirmation bias on networks and cable programs. For conservatives and others (see below), they are largely limited to looking to Fox News and a couple other sites to get the other side of stories. This has worked incredibly well for Fox which has rivaled the national networks in some time slots. However, it is not good in the long run for American media, which is jettisoning much of the country in its coverage. We need healthy and multiple news outlets to give citizens a reliable and trusted body of journalism.