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Friday, 14 August 2020 21:14

American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy

Index

The following is an executive summary of Gallup and the Knight Foundation's annual report on American views on trust, media and democracy.

The full report can be downloaded here.

 

Americans still value the media's traditional roles in society, such as providing accurate news and holding powerful interests accountable for their actions.

 

  • The vast majority of Americans (84%) say that, in general, the news media is “critical” (49%) or “very important” (35%) to democracy.
  • Americans are more likely today to say the media’s role in democracy is “critical,” up five percentage points since 2017.
  • Large majorities say it is “critical” or “very important” for the news media to provide accurate and fair news reports (92%), ensure Americans are informed about public affairs (91%) and hold leaders accountable for their actions (85%).
  • More Americans say the media is performing poorly rather than well in accomplishing these goals than did in 2017.

 

However, Americans see increasing levels of bias in the news media; majorities see bias in the news source they rely on most.

 

  • A majority of Americans currently see “a great deal” (49%) or “a fair amount” (37%) of political bias in news coverage. The percentage seeing a great deal of bias is up from 45% in 2017.
  • Most Americans see bias in their go-to news source; 20% see “a great deal” and another 36% see “a fair amount” of bias in the news source they rely on most often.
  • Given the choice, however, more Americans say they are concerned about bias in the news other people are getting (69%) than say they worry about their own news being biased (29%).
  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they see too much bias in the reporting of news that is supposed to be objective as “a major problem” (73%), up from 65% in the 2017 study.

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