Study Reveals Teenagers And Young Adults Do Not Trust The Media


The decline in trust with mainstream media today is not a simple phenomenon that is fast becoming prevalent among young individuals along the political and social spectrum.

A recent study from Data & Society and the Knight Foundation suggests that today's youth have a very low level of trust when it comes to news coming from traditional media. A sampling of 52 participants in three cities demonstrates that young individuals are highly skeptical of news and are concerned that sources of these items were either inaccurate or are biased.

A 22-year-old African-American female told researchers that what is presented in news is never the complete truth; she adds it may even be false in some aspects. Further, she stated that there is bias in language.

While young people may be skeptical of news media, that does not mean they do not know how to navigate news items. Teens also have grown to be more cynical in their choice of media, as they easily quickly discern between obvious biases and base their trust on a foundation of respect.

As a result, majority teens have turned to social media for their own news, citing specific reporters, news outlets or social commentary accounts for their information. This type of trust, however, can lead either to an informed opinion, or on blind trust that is bereft of factual research.

The study also shows that young people tend to check multiple news outlets to verify stories, keeping in mind the bias presented in many news outlets. Mary Madden, a researcher at Data & Society, and one of the authors said, "Teens and young adults are on the front lines of navigating an incredibly complex information environment."

Older Americans, on the other hand, are more likely to trust the media, however, media's trust rating declined between age groups in 2016. Gallup Analytics says that 18 to 49 age group have 26-percent trust rating, down from 36-percent from the previous year. Those aged 50 and older has 38-percent, down from 45-percent during the same period. Older Americans also mark 2016 as the first time trust ratings have dropped with mass media below 40-percent since 2001.

Primary cause pointed at by Gallup is the divisive presidential election last year. However, it needs to be pointed out that the significant slide in media trust has been happening during the past decade. It was common before 2004 that Americans to profess at least a trust in mass media, as of late, less than half of Americans have the same sentiment. Accordingly, only a third of the U.S. has any trust in the Fourth Estate, an alarming development for a long time institution designed to provide information to the public.

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