Trust in the media has fallen to the ground. Are we entering a “post-news” era?

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Trust in the news media has been in decline for decades. Currently, 4 in 10 Americans say they have no confidence in media news reporting.

This decline in trust can have serious consequences. Democracy depends on an informed electorate. And those involved in news are usually also involved in civic life. For the journalism industry, this trust gap is creating a death spiral. Since 2005, approximately 3,000 newspapers have closed down.

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The decline in trust in news media is not just due to the impact of polarization on journalists and the public. It’s also about dealing with the tsunami of digital content. Do people have room in their lives to listen to the news? How do they judge quality?

Expertise no longer matters in a fragmented digital realm where opinion, commentary, and amateur video often emphasize evidence-based journalism. Content providers know that shock and sensation drive engagement, and social media algorithms reinforce it.

These days, news influencers on Instagram and TikTok are trying to reach younger audiences who are skeptical of traditional journalism.

One of them is Mosheh Oinounou, a former television producer who runs a news operation called Mo News. Oenou says he builds trust with his followers by showcasing his own work, crediting his sources and acknowledging the limits of his own knowledge. He tells the reader, “I don’t know what’s going to happen here, but there are several ways to think about it.”

Growing up in a pre-internet era, Moshe Oynownow got his news the old-fashioned way.

“We waited until morning. [Chicago] “The tribune landed in the driveway and look what happened in the world,” he says. News also appeared on radio and television, and Mr. Oinounou built a career as a producer for CBS, FOX and Bloomberg.

Today, a world of stable news with limited media sources reaching many American homes in some form has been swept away by a tsunami of information online. Half of U.S. adults now get at least some of their news.from social media. This has significantly reduced revenue for newspapers and other news content publishers, as digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Google have sucked up most of the advertising dollars that have supported most journalism for decades. . In 2006,US newspapers earned $49 billion in advertising revenue.By 2022, that amount had fallen to less than $10 billion.

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The decline in trust in news media is not just due to the impact of polarization on journalists and the public. It’s also about dealing with the tsunami of digital content. Do people have room for news in their lives? How do they judge quality?

These digital platforms are not only determining how and when Americans get their news, but they are also keeping them away from the news entirely by:deprioritize newsWith algorithm feed. Ironically, while today’s news consumers have more access than ever to a wide range of information and views, much of it free, many citizens still prefer to avoid more serious “hard news.” Because of this, we choose to consume podcasts, videos, and other digital content every day. ” Jeez.

Some of today’s news avoiders say it’s the media’s own fault. He is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota.“Avoiding the News: Journalism-Reluctant Audiences”

This distrust is shared by those who still regularly watch the news. In the United States, conservatives have long opposed liberal bias in mainstream news outlets, a sentiment they say fuels the growth of a right-wing media ecosystem. Over the past decade, former President Donald Trump greatly accelerated this distrust by slamming the “fake news” media, often seeking to discredit critical headlines about him.

Still, the debate over media bias may be missing the larger point: more and more people are ignoring the news altogether.

“There’s a lot more to the general public.” [that is] Most of the time, they are simply indifferent to the news,” says Professor Tov. “They’ll say in a survey that they’re distrustful, but it’s not a deep-seated distrust. It’s really more like skepticism about the value of news and its relevance to their lives.”

Indeed, many have long despised this news as depressing, boring, or irrelevant. Nevertheless, for most of the last century, it has permeated the daily lives of most Americans, either through newspapers purchased primarily for sports and weather information, or through television news programs played continuously between programs. I did. Today, with the rise of the internet and streaming, this type of casual consumption (news as background noise) is much less common.

Jonathan Rah/NurPhoto/AP/File

Smartphones display social media logos with misinformation in the background.

“We’ve always relied on the newspaper industry to introduce new facts into the media ecosystem, and we’re losing that very infrastructure,” said Victor, professor of media policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Picard says:

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Overall trust in the news media has declined in recent decades, and with it a widespread loss of trust in other public institutions.Currently, 4 in 10 American girlfriends say they are“unconfident”Only 32% have “a great deal” or “a lot” of confidence in the media’s news reporting. When Gallup asked the same question in 2003, only one in 10 people said they were not confident, while more than half expressed confidence.

This decline in confidence in press freedom and the end of traditional reporting practices is likely to have major implications. For the journalism industry, it’s creating a kind of death spiral.Approximately 3,000 newspapers have closed down since 2005.;More than 200 counties across the United States currently have no local news provider. As news organizations close or lay off reporters and editors to cut costs, regaining audience trust has become even more difficult.

But more broadly, a lack of shared news can prevent citizens from interacting with each other based on common facts and ideas. Democracy depends on an informed electorate with some basic knowledge on which to base their choices. A break from the news usually goes hand in hand with a break from politics, voting, and civic life.

Digital Products News media suffers: confusion, division, and disinformation

Of course, the digital disruption of journalism does not mean that all news reporting is about to disappear. A few large media organizations with relatively wealthy subscribers are likely to survive, along with public broadcasters and national news networks tied to (and subsidized by) the entertainment sector.

But their relative success could further deepen the divide between the few voters who know a lot about public affairs and those who are watching from the outside or looking away.

“not only that, [fact-based news] Although it is becoming increasingly rare as there are fewer journalists and news organizations,Trustworthy, high-quality news media behind a paywall” says Professor Picard, author of “Democracy Without Journalism?” Confronting the misinformation society. ”

Cable news, which fundamentally disrupted television network news at the time, now primarily serves an audience of baby boomers.The median age of viewers of Fox, CNN, and MSNBC is 67 to 71 years old.

Jeffrey Dvorkin, former NPR ombudsman and author of “Trusting the News in the Digital Age,” said that in a fragmented digital realm where opinion and amateur videos often underline evidence-based journalism, They say knowledge is no longer important. Conspiracy theories thrive in these areas.Disinformation from Russia and other foreign powers.

This fragmentation undermines the authority of traditional news sources. It becomes a kind of rallying point for people to say, “Well, I don’t trust anyone.” I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust the media. I don’t trust the church. . I don’t trust universities. I trust what I feel is important to me,” Dvorkin says. “They want ideas and expressions that support their feelings, rather than letting them be known.”

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on April 25, 2024 in Washington. The relationship between the press and the president can be complex and combative.

Content providers know itShock and sensation drive engagement, social media algorithms often enhance it. For example, video recommendations on TikTok tend to showcase things like:Images of the Gaza war that are heavily biased from a pro-Palestinian perspective.Most of these videos come from news outlets that vet the images and provide context. They are posted by activists, agitators, and influencers. Some were later found to be fraudulent or misleading.

In a 2023 Pew Research Center poll, 32% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 said they regularly get their news from TikTok, which favors short, user-generated videos.

Professor Toff led a three-year global research project on trust in news at the Reuters Institute for Journalism at the University of Oxford. Researchers found that America’s growing distrust of news media is mirrored in other democracies, even though voters are also concerned about the veracity of social media content.

“The media environment is so diverse that many people have instilled in their minds the idea that the smarter way to behave online is to distrust everything in sight. And I think that can lead to a kind of generalized distrust that makes it difficult to actually engage with the world,” says Professor Tov.

News organizations looking to attract younger audiences face a particularly difficult dilemma when it comes to social media. Allowing content to spread through social media means that the story is often presented with inflammatory and unreliable commentary, which can further undermine your brand. But irrelevance could be even worse, especially if more users filter traditional news sources and become less influenced by reputable journalism.

Using artificial intelligence to generate vast amounts of news content, fake images and audio, increases the challenge for independent, fact-based news organizations. Online audiences who already struggle with media literacy are likely to see an increase in AI-generated fake news, increasing general distrust of all news sources.

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These days, news influencers on platforms like Instagram and TikTok are trying to reach younger audiences who are skeptical or disinterested in traditional journalism. They aggregate and analyze the news, downplay partisan spin, use comments to respond to readers, and decide which topics to cover next.

Oyenow, a former television producer, is one of them. He started sharing news on his Instagram during the first wave of the 2020 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). What started as a service for family and friends has become a fast-growing news operation called Mo News, offering premium subscriptions and newsletters. His Instagram account aggregates news from mainstream media under easy-to-understand and descriptive headings, and he has over 400,000 followers. Most of them are women in their mid-30s.

“I think there’s an audience that continues to be hungry for news. They’re just finding it in different ways,” he says. This audience “comes to social media for family advice, parenting advice, and information.” It includes news and stories related to a variety of subjects, including political news. . ”

Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports NPSTrans Topic

UFC color commentator and comedian Joe Rogan speaks at the Fight Club weigh-in at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 12, 2024. He hosts the podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” where he talks about current events and politics. , science, martial arts, hobbies.

RocaNews, another startup with bite-sized news products, including a popular news quiz app, reaching around 1.5 million consumers, also launched in 2020. Co-founder and president Max Frost says Gen Z viewers want facts. Context without political spin or sensationalism. “One of our missions is to not report the news. Reading the news raises your blood pressure, and it shouldn’t.”

Frost said many young social media users don’t feel like they’re represented in mainstream news outlets, such as when they read positive reports about the economy that they feel are stacked against them. talk. “They don’t have money in the stock market. They don’t own property,” he says.

These blind spots span generations, says Tangina Vega, former host of WNYC’s national news program “The Takeaway.” “There is a huge class difference,” she says. “I don’t see a lot of working-class media.” With the journalism industry in such economic turmoil, more publishers are turning to premium subscribers, who tend to be wealthier and more politically engaged. We are focused on attracting the most people, which shapes our editorial priorities.

Vega, a former CNN reporter, said younger radio listeners are drawn to podcasters like Joe Rogan and Charlamagne the God. They mix conversation about news from carefully selected sources with entertainment, and eschew journalistic conventions. “there is [quality] People like Joe Rogan are relatable, for better or for worse. They found a breakthrough. “People say, ‘This guy is one of us,'” she says.

By showcasing his work (the article is clearly credited as the original source) and by acknowledging the limitations of his knowledge, Mr. Oinounou avoids overhyping his hot opinions. He says that he has built a relationship of trust with Mo News’ followers. He tells the reader, “I don’t know what’s going to happen here, but there are several ways to think about it.”

He also encourages readers to visit well-sourced news outlets, such as the New York Times, to better understand the complex story he has pieced together. Some tell him he doesn’t need to because he’s already “vetted” the story. Trust continues toward and through him, but no further.

“It’s very interesting to hear that official sources are not trusted,” he says. “as if [when] Receiving it through someone else somehow gives it more credibility. ”

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