The Rise of Media Distrust

Sean McGinley (

Media distrust is at an all time high in the United States and you don’t have to do too much sleuthing to see this. I personally see it nearly everyday. I walked around the activities fair last week, where I saw stickers at one table with the words “Defund the Media” printed on them. In many of my politics classes, we have debated the role that the media plays in the potential proliferation of false facts or bad ideas. In a recent informal poll conducted by The Grizzly found that, when presented with the question “Do you trust the media?,” about 85% of respondents answered “No.” 

Is this a recent development? Have people been feeling this way for a long time, but it’s only become obvious in the last few years? A lot of us may think that this discussion was initiated during the 2016 election and eventual Trump presidency, when it felt like former President Trump and the national media outlets were in a constant back-and-forth with one another. While the Trump era may have shined a significant light on recent media distrust in our country, it wouldn’t be the first time that notable public figures would point to the media as spreading lies or causing division within our nation. According to Berkovitz, Presidents like Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln had their fair share of problems with the news and the way that the media depicted them. Not only that, but radio commentators like the now-deceased Rush Limbaugh were decrying the media’s lack of sanctity for years, before it ever became a talking point during the Trump presidency. Despite how this issue came to the forefront, it is vital to know that there are ways to combat the distrust.

Despite how hopeless this situation may seem, there are many groups dedicated to fighting this issue, along with well-known methods that help in this regard. For example, a recent association of several international news groups, called The Trust Project, has put together a list of what they call “Trust Indicators” in the hopes of these being integrated into news articles. One of these indicators is labelled “Best Practices,” and questions underneath this heading that people should be asking include “Who funds the site?” and “What standards and ethics guide the process of gathering news?” The group has partnered with sites like Google and Facebook in order to hopefully bring about a greater sense of clarity in news consumption. 

Besides supporting groups like The Trust Project, there are methods that the everyday person can employ to make sure that they are not being fed biased information. Researching where you got your information from along with who wrote it are two relatively quick and easy ways to ensure that the information you’re gathering is unbiased. Additionally, finding additional articles that corroborate the same information that you found in another is an additional simple way to make sure you have trusted information. To conclude, support groups whose mission it is to fight bias in news so the media can once again earn the trust of the people.