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Gallup: Americans’ confidence in newspapers continues to erode

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After a brief rebound from an all time low in 2008, Gallup reports that Americans’ confidence in newspapers has fallen for the third straight year,

According to a Gallup survey released Monday, the percentage of Americans saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers has been generally trending downward since reaching a high of 51 percent in 1979.

Fewer than one in four now have confidence in newspapers.

Newspapers are now tied with television news, with just 23 percent expressing confidence in the medium. With newspaper advertising in a free-fall since 2000, it’s a wonder many stay in business.

A Business Insider report in September shows inflation-adjusted newspaper advertising revenue over the past 60 years, noting that “the industry is now back to where it was in 1950.”


Pew Research Center reported in an analysis published last month that most newspapers are profitable on an operating basis — reduced staff is a big part of this — but struggle with debt and pension obligations assumed in better times.

Pew notes that digital advertising, now up to 15 percent of total ad revenue, and digital pay plans are a high priority for most organizations.

Nonetheless, are the financial struggles related to the lack of confidence most have in newspapers? Talk to most in the industry and they’ll say it’s a result of technological advances.

And it’s a fair argument, as folks now have countless options to get their news and are able to get it almost instantaneously. New media sites such as BizPac Review are slowing coming to dominate the news cycle.

Speak with those most disaffected by the perceived bias of newspapers, conservative Americans, and they’ll tell you something entirely different.

As for bias, Gallup reported confidence in newspapers by party:

Democrats are most confident, at 33%, while independents are less so, at 19%, and Republicans, at 16%, are least confident.

In the end, for most, it comes down to a matter of trust. In today’s fast-paced society that offers a myriad of choices, they frequent news sources they can believe in.

And in besting only big business, organized labor, HMOs and Congress when it comes to confidence, newspapers are in a world of hurt.

Tom Tillison


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