Giving Compass' Take:
- Doug Irving discusses "Truth Decay," American consumers' widespread disbelief in unbiased journalism and reliable news outlets.
- How has American confidence in unbiased journalism taken a particular dive in recent years? What will it take to renew our trust in the journalistic process?
- Learn about ways to rebuild trust in media and democracy.
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Researchers at RAND have been looking for solutions to the diminishing role of facts and analysis in public life, a problem they call “Truth Decay.” And getting to the bottom of it requires getting to the bottom of our broken relationship with the media.
Most Americans seek out reliable sources for their news. But more than a quarter—potentially tens of millions of people—don't bother. They continue to get their news from sources they themselves rate as less-reliable, like friends or social media.
With our choose-your-own-news media environment, conservatives can always find a conservative outlet to follow, and liberals can always find a liberal outlet. Yet the survey found that 74 percent of Americans always or sometimes get their news from an outlet they don't always agree with. Only 17 percent said they infrequently seek out other voices, and 9 percent said they never do.
More and more people are turning to online news, even though fewer than a third of the respondents thought it was among the most reliable sources. In all, 24 percent said they rely on broadcast television as their primary source of news, followed by online sources (23 percent) and cable news (19 percent). The sources considered most reliable, meanwhile, were broadcast news, cable news, and print.
Study after study has shown that married people—women, especially—don't have as much free time as their unmarried equals. It might be that news habits are as much a function of time and convenience as of age, education, or political leanings.
If that's the case, then just teaching people to be discerning consumers of news won't be enough to counter Truth Decay. Finding new ways to get good and reliable information to people racing out the door might be just as important.
Read the full article about the struggle to combat "truth decay" in the media by Doug Irving at RAND Corporation.