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As President Trump continues to use the “fake news” mantra to whip the masses into a frenzy, it causes one to wonder what publications people do trust.

The University of Missouri set out to answer that question based on a survey of over 8,000 consumers.

Before jumping to the results, it’s worth noting that respondents represented a cross section of Americana.

University of Missouri survey U.S. map

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The survey did a decent job of pulling respondents from varied ideologies, though they slightly skew to the liberal side.

University of Missouri survey political orientation

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Back to the question, the most trusted news source turns out to be The Economist. In fact, the British media punches above its weight with the BBC also landing in the top five.

You can see the complete findings in the chart below.

least and most trusted news sources graph

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My perspective —

  • If you’re BuzzFeed, it must be disheartening to see that your massive investment in investigative journalism hasn’t moved the perception needle. Readers view BF as the place for cats dancing to the Hustle and exploding watermelons, not in-depth reports like the one on Chinese dissident Dr. Gao Yaojie. Even Breitbart fares better than BuzzFeed.
  • I think it’s fair to say that President Trump’s bashing of The New York Times has had the desired effect from a White House perspective. I would put the NYT in the top five, but the survey slots it in the middle of the pack and less trustworthy than several metro dailies with a fraction of the resources at their disposal.
  • Apparently Rupert Murdoch hasn’t tainted The Wall Street Journal which scored well and has managed to stay out of the sights of President Trump’s Twitter account.
  • All of the for-profit TV networks — Fox, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, CBS — were deemed untrustworthy. It makes sense taking into account the quest for rankings and the need to entertain, if not provoke.

It would be revealing to know how the distribution of media stories on social media impacts trust. In other words, if a person were to read a BuzzFeed story that a friend posted on Facebook, does he or she give that particular article greater trust?

Regardless, this issue of trust in the media will be playing out for some time.

Our friend in the White House will see to that.


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