Americans' trust in news media plummets: poll

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Confidence in the US news media is at an all-time low, a Gallup survey revealed on Wednesday, with most Americans complaining the media is too conservative or too liberal.

The survey showed just 40 per cent of respondents felt confident in the news media's ability to report "fully, accurately, and fairly", matching results of the 2012 questionnaire.

The latest poll shows bias is a key issue for Americans and the news media.

Some 44 per cent said the media sector as a whole was "too liberal", a slight decline from the 48 per cent peak in 2010. Meanwhile, 19 per cent described the media as "too conservative", a jump from 13 per cent a year earlier.

Only 34 percent said the media are "just about right" in terms of their balance.

"Though a sizable percentage of Americans continue to have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media, Americans' overall trust in the Fourth Estate continues to be significantly lower now than it was 10 to 15 years ago," Gallup said.

Declining trust in the news media comes amid a backdrop of lower confidence in many public institutions. Recent Gallup surveys have shown low levels of confidence in Congress, the presidency and public schools, for example.

Gallup suggested that as more news moves to online platforms and social media, "Americans may be growing disenchanted with what they consider 'mainstream' news as they seek out their own personal veins of getting information".

The polling group also said Americans' opinions about the media appear to be lower in election years, and could recover slightly in 2015 with the absence of political campaigns.

"But the overarching pattern of the past decade has shown few signs of slowing the decline of faith in mass media as a whole," the group said.

Until a decade ago, a majority of Americans said they trusted the news media.

The sharpest drop came in 2004, during former president George W. Bush's re-election season, when trust fell from 53 per cent to 44 per cent.

For the latest survey, which has been conducted annually since 1997, Gallup polled a random sample of 1,017 US adults by telephone between September 4 and 7. It estimated a sampling margin of error four percentage points.