Trust Me: A Look at How the People Believe (And Consume) News


It’s that time where many in the world of politics retreat to their respective partisan corners. That time every four years where words like partisanship and bias go hand-in-hand with media and reporting.  It’s that time of year when the message can get lost in the medium and people begin to question the credibility of whose saying what.

It’s election season and the public really doesn’t trust the media these days.   

According to this year’s TV News Trust Poll, television news is considered to be every bit as polarizing as the political parties in this country.  

When asked what news source do you trust the most, 34% of the poll checked Fox News with PBS being second at 17%.  This is interesting because when asked what news source do you distrust the most, Fox News also came in first at 34% with Comedy Central next at 17%.  

President of Public Policy Polling Dean Debnam explains that “Democrats trust everything except Fox News, while Republicans trust nothing except for Fox News.”  

Media conflict has even become a political talking point for most politicians - including conservative candidate Newt Gingrich.  

Gingrich used his attack on media bias and CNN to help score a victory in the South Carolina primary two weeks ago — turning claims of infidelity into a full-fledged attack against the ‘liberal media’ that resonated in the minds of S.C. voters.  

In an article entitled ‘Media Shaping the Presidential Election,’ writer Thomas Eddlem summarizes the power that the establishment media possesses when it comes to election season and how the perception of media shapes the election.

“Although the establishment media has a strong bias for liberalism and government intervention, it’s not political donations alone that reveal the real media influence on elections. The establishment media’s real major influence — what truly shapes the election — is whom it chooses to shine its spotlight on.’

Eddlem’s argument brings the media controversy full circle.  He contends that the right believes the ‘media establishment’ has it out for them while the the left argues some of the media only ‘shine the spotlight’ on who they want to win.

As people grow more skeptical of the media, the question for content providers becomes how to create a reporting model that can ease the concerns of distrust amongst its viewership.

In her predictions for the coming year, Rachel Sklar from the Nieman Journalism Lab predicts that news and curation apps will be the ‘killer apps’ of 2012.  News because it’s “what moves the needle, every day,” and curation because audiences want to take control away from the media and put it in their own hands. Sklar explains:

“Audiences are done with SEO-baiting and bait-and-switch headlines; we’re going to get more choosy with our clicks. And with our eyeball-access. So you’d better be trustworthy, because I don’t let just anyone curate for me. Because while news will always be the killer app, who it’s delivered by will matter just as much.”

This state of distrust created by the political media has fueled users to find their own media, create their own filter and seek out a variety of opinions.  Sklar believes that curation is the key - it’s the best possible way to get an untainted vantage point.

YouTube must agree with Sklar - it has launched a politics channel dedicated to monitoring the 2012 election. The channel curates video coverage of the 2012 election and offers features such as ‘Meet the Candidate,’ as well as graphs that compare the candidates by YouTube views.  YouTube Politics also allows users to customize the channel to their liking and subscribe to politicians they like and issues they want to stay on top of.