Americans see a variety of factors as important when it comes to deciding whether a news story is trustworthy or not, but their attitudes vary by party affiliation, demographic characteristics and news consumption habits, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
Overall, broad majorities of U.S. adults say it is at least somewhat important to consider each of five surveyed factors when determining whether a news story is trustworthy or not: the news organization that publishes it (88%); the sources cited in it (86%); their gut instinct about it (77%); the person, if any, who shared it with them (68%); and the specific journalist who reported it (66%). Just 24% of adults say it’s at least somewhat important to consider a sixth factor included in the survey: whether the story has a lot of shares, comments or likes on social media.
But notably fewer Americans see each of these factors as very important. Half of U.S. adults point to the news organization that publishes a story as a very important factor when determining its trustworthiness, while a similar share (47%) point to the sources that are cited in it. Fewer cite their gut instinct about the story (30%), the specific journalist who reported it (24%), the person who shared it with them (23%) or the engagement it has received on social media (6%), according to the March 8-14 survey of 12,045 adults. The survey was part of a broader study of media coverage of President Joe Biden’s first 60 days in office.
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are slightly more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners to say it’s very important to consider the news organization that publishes a story (55% vs. 47%) and the sources that are cited in it (51% vs. 44%). Republicans, in turn, are more likely than Democrats to see their own gut instinct as very important (35% vs. 26%), though this is a minority view in both parties.
Older Americans are generally more likely than younger Americans to point to the news organization that publishes a story and the sources that are cited in it as critical factors when determining its trustworthiness.
Among those 65 and older, 57% say the news organization is a very important factor and 54% say the same about the sources cited. Smaller proportions of adults under 30 see these as very important factors (42% and 41%, respectively). These findings are consistent with previous Pew Research Center studies, which found that younger Americans tend to feel less connected to their sources of news and are less likely to remember the sources of online news links they clicked on.
Most Americans Pay Attention to the Sources Cited in News Stories
In addition to asking about the factors that the public considers when deciding whether a news story is trustworthy, the survey asked Americans how closely they pay attention to the sources they see in the news. Overall, 22% of U.S. adults say they pay very close attention to the sources that are cited in news stories, while another 45% say they pay somewhat close attention.
Democrats are slightly more likely than Republicans to say they pay very close attention to the sources cited in news stories (25% vs. 19%) – a finding that aligns with the fact that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to see sourcing as very important to a story’s trustworthiness. Americans ages 65 and older (27%), those with a college degree (27%) and Black adults (28%) are also especially likely to say they pay very close attention to the sources that are mentioned in news stories.
Americans who have been following news about the Biden administration very closely are again the most likely to say they pay very close attention to the sources cited in news stories. Nearly half of these Americans (47%) say this, compared with smaller shares of those who follow news about the Biden administration fairly closely (20%) or not too or not at all closely (8%).
White House Briefing Room Returns to Full, Pre-Pandemic Level
Stop the presses!
In another sign that we are continuing to emerge from the pandemic, The White House briefing room has returned to full capacity.
The White House Correspondents’ Association, which oversees the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, has also introduced its pre-pandemic seating chart, featuring a front row of reporters from outlets including NBC, Fox News, CBS News, the Associated Press, ABC News, Reuters and CNN.
In addition, press capacity limitations on the White House grounds, including on the North Lawn and in indoor press workspaces, will return to 100 percent, according to the WHCA.
Fully-vaccinated journalists at least two weeks past their final vaccine dose will no longer have to undergo daily testing at the White House, unless they’re part of the press pool. Those not yet fully vaccinated will have to be tested daily or provide proof of a negative test.
Short-Circuited Mic: Congress Could Ban Key Tech Conveniences
It’s a classic example of the government overstepping its duty.
A group of U.S. House lawmakers have introduced sweeping legislation to limit the market power of big tech brands such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple by severing their dominant platforms from other lines of business.
The bipartisan proposals are the culmination of a 15-month investigation by the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, led by Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island. It concluded that the four tech giants have abused their market power by charging excessive fees, imposing tough contract terms and extracting valuable data from individuals and businesses that rely on them.
But it’s important to understand the potential laws could effectively ban these popular tech conveniences according to media reports:
Amazon Prime free shipping
By requiring equal treatment of all products and marketplace sellers, the bills would make it impossible for Amazon to offer its Prime free shipping service for certain products.
Google Maps appearing in Google search results The bills would prohibit Google from showing its maps in main search results when you search for a local business.
Facebook and Instagram cross-posting They would make it impossible for Facebook to show your friends’ Instagram stories at the top of the news feed – and ban users’ one-touch cross-posting between Facebook and Instagram
Apple’s App Store recommending the best apps Because the bills ban platforms from discriminating among services that use its platform, Apple’s App Store could no longer recommend the best apps.
LinkedIn integration into Microsoft Office Because Microsoft owns LinkedIn, the bills would ban its integration of LinkedIn contact info into Microsoft Office 365.
Song lyrics in Google search results Looking for song lyrics quickly? Google wouldn’t be able to just show you lyrics and would instead have to show you links to multiple lyric sites.
Amazon’s “buy box” recommending the best deal Because the bills ban platforms from “choosing between similar companies that you host,” Amazon’s “buy box” could no longer recommend the merchant with the best price and customer service.
Find My Phone in Apple’s iOS Apple would be blocked from pre-installing its “Find My” tool on iPhones and iPads.
Facebook’s “mark safe during a disaster” tool Facebook couldn’t promote its own tools, like its Safety Check during disasters or crises.
YouTube videos in Google search results Because Google owns YouTube, it wouldn’t be able to display YouTube videos in Google search results when you search for a song or video.
Apple apps pre-installed on iPhones The iPhone wouldn’t be able to come with any Apple apps pre-installed – making it harder for the novice user to quickly get started with Safari, Note, or Apple Podcasts.
Amazon Basics brand products that save consumers money Amazon would be effectively banned from offering its customers its money-saving generic brands.
The Spin Cycle thinks the government has better things to do than rob us of these every day, necessary tech conveniences!
Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!
TODD SMITH is co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Deane | Smith, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm – based in Nashville, Tenn. – is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him @spinsurgeon on Twitter and like the ageny on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deanesmithpartners, and join us on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/company/deane-smith-&-partners.