TV News: Watched But Decreasingly Trusted


Americans still get most of their news from TV, but believe increasingly less of what they see and hear there.

Those are some of the findings of a Pew Research Center biennial study of news consumption.

According to the study, 57% of the respondents said they regularly watch TV news, compared to 40% for reading newspapers, 36% for radio and 23% for online. The TV figure is down from 60% in 2004, but up over 2002 (54%) and 2000 (56%).

But while TV still tops the list, the number of people who say they believe "all or most" of what those news outlets had to say continues its precipitous slide.

CNN topped the list, but that is down from 32% in 2004, and way down from the 42% in 1998, the first year of the study.

Also, while CNN got more positives than negatives on the four-point believability scale (3's and 4's), that is down from a 5-1 margin in 1998.

All the 11 news organizations or newscasts listed were tightly bunched, with 60 Minutes second at 27% believing all or most, C-SPAN and Fox news conjoined by their tie at 25%, followed by local TV news, NBC news, and NewsHour all tied at 23%. ABC, NBC and NPR news were tied at 22%, with MSNBC at the bottom at 21%. Only NPR actually gained, from 19% believability in the 1998 study to 22% in 2006.

Fox's audience was the most consistent in its belief, varying by only two percentage points from its first appearance in the study in 2000 to its 25% in 2006.

Ten years ago, one in 50 people got their news from the Internet, according to the study. Now that number is one in three, and growing.

The Center based its findings on a Princeton Research Associates poll of 3,204 adults between April 27 and May 22, 2006.


Editorial: Trust But Verify

News Corp. will need more than guts and a well-delivered, and admittedly well-coached, defense of its business and journalism ethics