Americans believe 39 percent of news in newspapers, on TV or on the radio is misinformation — but their views of social media are even worse. They believe 65 percent of news on social media is made up or can’t be verified as accurate.
Two new reports from Gallup and the Knight Foundation released Wednesday morning examined Americans’ views of misinformation, bias and inaccuracy in the news, based on February and March surveys of 1,440 adults in the U.S.
News consumers believe the news they see on social media is more biased and less accurate than the news they consume on other platforms. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to perceive news from legacy media outlets as misinformation.
A few more quick notes from the reports:
Public media have the best reputations. Across the political spectrum, Americans rated PBS, the Associated Press and NPR as the least biased and most accurate news sources. Respondents also rarely distinguished between bias and accuracy — news sources perceived as biased were also usually perceived as inaccurate, and vice versa. The main exception was major legacy newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, which were generally ranked as accurate but biased.
Education level has a significant impact on views of the news. Adults with higher levels of education are less likely to perceive news as misinformation. This applies to high school graduates, college graduates and those with postgraduate degrees. Adults with lower levels of education are also more likely to think news is inaccurate or biased.
Political views also shape perceptions of news. Republican respondents believed there was much more bias in news than Democrats (77 percent vs. 44 percent), but both see extensive bias in news on social media. Republicans were also much more likely to perceive legacy media outlets as containing misinformation.
When people encounter misinformation, they check their news sources. Eighty-three percent of adults said they use their typical news sources when they encounter what they believe is misinformation, followed by internet searches and fact-checking websites. Republican respondents were more likely to consult their family and friends and less likely to use fact-checking websites.
Nearly one-quarter of adults said they had shared misinformation. Most of those, however, said they shared a news story with suspected misinformation to call attention to its inaccuracy. A much smaller percentage said they shared it to spread the story to a wider audience.
Do you think it’s important to teach young people how to fact-check information online? Learn more about Poynter’s MediaWise initiative for teenagers.