Public trust in media decreases

Andrew Hansen, Reporter

While Americans trust in the media is higher than it was last year, it’s still at a decade low, as a 2019 Gallup poll found that only 41% of Americans trust the mainstream news media.

UW Oshkosh Political Science professor George Wallace says one reason for the low level of trust in the news media may be Americans’ overreliance on social media.

“I think from the perspective of many who tend to rely primarily on social media what they may be getting through their social media interactions is in many ways different from what they hear on mainstream news,” Wallace said.

What professor Wallace is referring to is known as an “echo chamber,” a term used to
describe an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with his or her own, so that existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered.

“People don’t ordinarily like to be challenged that the way they think may not be correct or that the way they think might be open to question,” he said. “And so it involves a willingness on the part of people who do tend to form those echo chambers to think beyond the walls of those chambers.”

So what can be done? Well, Wallace says getting information from multiple sources is always important, but also is realizing that it’s not possible for any one source of news media to cover every story on Earth.

“We need to get beyond this notion that the media only covers the things that are really important because there are lots of really important things that the media doesn’t tend to spend a lot of time covering,” he said.