Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Voters say local news is less biased than national

A poll last week found that voters put more trust in their local news outlets than they do national news media, Edward Graham reports for Morning Consult, which commissioned the poll with Politico. It found that 41 percent of registered voters in a nationwide sample trust the local news more than national news to tell the truth, while 27 percent said they trusted national news more (32 percent didn't know or didn't have an opinion).

Democrats were slightly more likely to trust national news more than local news, while Republicans (especially Trump voters) and independents were almost twice as likely to trust local news over national news. On the question of bias, 54 percent of the respondents said they believed national news is liberally biased, while only 16 percent said it was conservatively biased and 7 percent said it was nonpartisan. The perception of liberal bias was seen less in local news: 40 percent said their local news leans liberal, while 25 percent said it is conservative and 11 percent said it was nonpartisan. The poll was conducted online Aug. 10-14 among 1,997 registered voters, and results were weighted to produce a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Natalie Jomini Stroud, an associate communications studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said local media may be more trusted by viewers because there is evidence that local newspapers tailor coverage to readers' preferences.

The poll takes on added weight when considering the controversial ascent of conservative news conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting Group. "Sinclair, already the largest owner of television stations across the United States, is in the middle of a proposed $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media that would see the company add 42 new stations. The Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing the proposed merger," Graham notes. Some have criticized Sinclair for requiring local news stations to frequently run segments of conservative commentary.

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