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Gallup: Despite slight bump, confidence in newspapers and TV news still low among Independents

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Despite a slight bump from 2010, a Gallup poll released Monday revealed that confidence in newspapers and television news remains low among Independent voters.  In 2011, a mere 23% of Independents were confident in newspapers. That's only up slightly from 2010, in whcih 20% of Independents were confident in newspapers. And in 2011, only 23% of Independents had confidence in television news, a modest jump from a more dismal 18% in 2010.

Gallup found that confidence among Republicans toward both newspapers and television news was more closely aligned with the sentiments of Independents. The 21% of Republicans who expressed confidence in newspapers in 2011 remains unchanged from 2010. In television news, confidence rose from 16% in 2010 to 25% in 2011.

Out of the three main political demographics, Democratic voters saw the biggest confidence jump when it came to their perception of newspapers. In 2011, 39% of Democrats expressed confidence in newspapers, up from 33% in 2010. Meanwhile their confidence in television news rose from 31% to 36% between 2010-2011.

Nevertheless, confidence among voters from all three political factions lies well below the 50% mark. Among adults nationally, the situation is colored with similar tones, with confidence lying in the upper 20% range.

This issue does bring up a legitimate discussion of what media outlets need to do to regain the trust of the American people. Arguably, as both local and national candidates are gradually facing the challenge to reach out to an increasing Independent voter population, the alphabet-lettered media here in the United States will likewise need to adopt a similar mindset if they are to become a relevant source of information again.

Between this Gallup poll and an earlier Pew Research Center poll taken regarding cable news news viewership patterns, key indicators are pointing to a growing Independent ideological trend seeking to get away from loud partisan talking points. Despite newspapers and television shows improving their technological capabilities, there's no getting around the fundamental principle that informative content remains king. 

While certain newspapers and television networks will always preach to the choir in a certain sense, an implication drawn from this Gallup survey is that these very outlets will need to begin more fairly covering Independent and third party viewpoints.  As long as traditional broadcasters stick to the routine of trying to determine the country's political narrative, as CNN did in in snubbing Gary Johnson and as many outlets are now doing by pushing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to be the top of the GOP ticket, the confidence index among Independent voters will continue to remain low.

If the newspaper and television establishment is satisfied with the status quo, Independents will continue flocking to the internet for a fuller representation of news and events. With the Independent army rapidly growing, establishment newspapers and television networks will find it more difficult to simply preach to the choir. 

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