Distrust in the media has gone up over the years, per a report from Gallup and the Knight Foundation.
While the poll found 84% of Americans say the news media is either critical or very important for a functioning democracy, 49% of those surveyed think the media is biased, as of 2020.
Jasmine LaBine, part-time communication instructor at Western Michigan University, said distrust in media is not a new topic.
“I think that this is being treated as a new phenomenon, but I think it’s a problem that has existed for a very long time, it’s just getting more attention now,” LaBine said. “We expect news outlets to produce stories faster and faster. With that, sometimes mistakes are made.”
Per the poll, Americans were also overwhelmed by the sheer volume and speed of news, and the way news is presented to them. 63% said they were overwhelmed by the pace or speed of news reporting, as well as the number of news organizations doing the reporting.
As an instructor of journalistic style writing, LaBine said she’s able to look at issues in the media from both the perspective of a reader and a writer.
“I kind of have a three strike policy,” LaBine said. “If I find it to be misleading, then that’s a strike, and after that, they’ve lost a lot of my trust. Number one, look at the date of the article you are reading. People will share stories that are no longer timely.”
In order to ensure the credibility of a media outlet, Labine suggested that readers look for sources to be cited. Controversial stories are considered more trustworthy when they are objective and balanced.
“Look for sources that are objective and balanced in the way that they cover stories, especially controversial ones,” LaBine said. “Look for a variety of sources that have interviews, and not just people who are all from the same background or the same position.”