How media brands affect people’s trust in news

by | Nov 1, 2018 | Blog, What We're Reading

Americans are less trusting of information when they know where it comes from, a new Knight Foundation study finds.

An Online Experimental Platform to Assess Trust in the Media
Gallup/Knight Foundation
By Knight Foundation
July 18, 2018

In a recent online experiment, the Knight Foundation tested how participants’ bias about media outlets affects their level of trust in news providers across the political spectrum.

Participants were either shown images of recent articles from Vox, New York Times, Associated Press, Fox News and Breitbart News with or without identifying the news outlet, or “source attribution.” Researchers found, “The ‘brand’ reputation of these sources affects perceived trustworthiness of the content more than the information presented.”

Democrats rated liberal sources as more trustworthy and conservative sources as less trustworthy when shown source attribution. In the same situation, Republicans rated conservative sources as more trustworthy and liberal sources as less trustworthy.

Key Numbers

  • The platform divided participants into four “channels” — two contained source attribution and two did not.
  • Participants rated the two channels that showed source attribution as 3.08 and 3.07 and channels without sources as 3.22 and 3.23 out of five, with five being the most trustworthy.
  • The Associated Press was rated as the most trustworthy, followed by The New York Times.

Study Details

Gallup selected 25,000 Gallup Panel members stratified by age, race, state, income and party affiliation.