Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Is the Media to Blame?

Katelyn Lemen

Trust in the media

There is no doubt that Americans are second-guessing the media. Gallup has reported that Americans' trust and confidence in the mass media "to report the news fully, accurately and fairly" has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from 2015. Why is this happening?


The recent decline can be attributed to the Presidential election. There’s no denying that some mainstream media organizations lean one way or another. For example, Fox News is seen as “more conservative” and PBS is considered more “liberal.” Donald Trump has openly discussed his distrust in the media. He makes claims that the media don't criticize Hilary Clinton as much as him. Whether that is true or not is still up for debate.

Nevertheless, politicians and their opinions are heavily discussed in the media and by the public. They have a great influence on public perceptions. If politicians say the media can’t be trusted, they are going to create a following that believes the same.


The media has been under scrutiny for treating races differently. Catherine Squires with the New York Times believes many young African-Americans distrust the media because they see the “double standard”.

She created a list of reasons why African-Americans distrust news media. One of the reasons was, “It is hard to trust an institution that ignores you unless you are perceived as causing a problem for 'the rest of us.’"

It’s had to ignore that African Americans have been wrongly portrayed in the media. Whether it’s police brutality, stereotyping,  #BlackLivesMatter, or just straight bias, there is always controversy surrounding African Americans.

The media should work on creating stories with words, images and news angles that give a fuller, more nuanced narrative of African-Americans, as well as black history, culture and life in America, as a whole. It should be reiterated that people of color are individuals, not types. By addressing this, the trust in media will rise.

Social Media

I personally think the main reason Americans have distrust in the media is due to social media. Nowadays, people are getting news and information from Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets. While some online articles are reliable, most are not. Many Facebook articles use click bait and advertisements to draw readers in. For example, the other day I stumbled upon an article with the heading “Hilary Clinton Secretly Orders an Assassin on Trump.” I clicked on the article to find an extremely unreliable website filled with advertisements and pop-ups. While this is an extreme example, this happens daily to active social media users. We are constantly being fed information and are unable to detect what is real and what is not.

While the big media corporations may be providing accurate, truthful information, there are thousands- even millions of other articles from anyone with access to the Internet that are completely inaccurate.


Rather than blaming the media for being “untrustworthy,” we should take a look at our relationship with the media. If we aren’t educating ourselves on current events or seeking other sources for reliability, are they really to blame? Americans should look deeper into Facebook articles and get both sides to each “story” before blaming the media for false information.

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