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What does the data tell us about the decline of public trust in journalism?

An oft-cited 2016 Gallup Poll found public trust in journalism at an all-time low, attributing that year’s acceleration of an ongoing decline to the presidential election.

In 2016, trust of the news media as measured by a widely quoted Gallup poll plummeted to just 32%, an all-time low since the survey was first conducted in 1972. While trust has been eroding over time, the poll suggests that the 2016 presidential election campaign was a significant factor in accelerating the decline in trust. Although older Americans were more likely than younger Americans to say they trust the media, trust declined among both age groups.

Americans’ trust and confidence hit its highest point in 1976, at 72%, in the wake of widely lauded examples of investigative journalism regarding Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. After staying in the low to mid-50s through the late 1990s and into the early years of the new century, Americans’ trust in the media has fallen slowly and steadily. It has consistently been below a majority level since 2007.