Thursday, September 16, 2021

Rural residents in 4 of 5 countries studied, including U.S., are less trusting of the news media than city dwellers are

How the general trust in news media differs among four major nations.
Reuters Institute chart; click the image to enlarge it.
It's not just an American phenomenon: the Reuters Institute's latest Trust in News report found that, in four of the five countries studied, rural residents trust the news significantly less than city dwellers. But that distrust may be part of a larger pattern, since rural residents are generally less trusting (as are older people, those without college degrees, and whites, groups that are more prevalent in the rural U.S.).

In the U.S., 40 percent of rural residents were "generally untrusting toward news" compared to 16% of urban residents. Conservative political affiliation is an especially significant indicator of news media distrust in the U.S. as well, according to the report.

However, it's worth noting that most respondents said they trust some news sources more than others, and definitions of what qualifies as "news" vary.

Americans who generally don't trust news media were much less likely than other Americans to agree that familiarity with a news brand affects how much they trust it. In short, that suggests "that the generally untrusting as a group are somewhat less confident in their ability to differentiate between sources, and that may contribute to a lack of trust overall," the report says. "The untrusting not only say they pay less attention to journalists’ backgrounds and the editorial practices individual news outlets embrace, they also put less stock in the way brands present themselves or whether familiarity is even a useful indicator of trustworthiness. On average they trust few or no brands, not because they are particularly discerning but because they are less knowledgeable about what separates one brand from the next and may lack the motivation or interest to find out."

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