America's trust in the media is at its lowest point since Gallup began asking the question back in 1972. The numbers have also become increasingly partisan; Republicans no longer believe the media accurately reflects their worldview.
Distrust in media may be a side effect of new trends in journalism. This article goes through four theories of why distrust is on the rise. Here's an interesting point it brings up:
Today’s journalists are more comfortable taking strong positions on partisan issues than they used to be. This is often a good thing. But the increased partisanship of large news outlets might feed a public perception that neutral objectivity doesn’t exist, and therefore, people are entitled to scream “partisanship!” about any viewpoint that they disagree with. The Pittsburgh-Tribune Review recently asked Donald Trump Jr., how he felt that the Pulitzer Prize-winning team at PolitiFact found that 70 percent of his father’s claims were false, more than twice the ratio of Hillary Clinton. Trump’s response: “I would argue that PolitiFact is a very liberal organization.” The shocking thing about this claim is that it’s not shocking, at all. It has become acceptably normal for a politician to call a Pulitzer-Prize winning organization “very biased” if it disagrees with him. There is also no risk in saying so.
But distrusting the media can have really damaging effects—as Jonathan M. Ladd argues in his book, "Why Americans Hate the Media and How It Matters."
"...media distrust has major negative consequences, is true to some extent. Media distrust is consequential. It changes the way people acquire information and form political preferences. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Overall, media distrust leads to substantial information loss among the mass public. Those who distrust the media both resist the information they receive from institutional news outlets and increasingly seek out partisan news sources that confirm their preexisting views."
Prominent media critic Mathew Ingram says the lack of trust can't be pinned on any one thing, because of how decentralized media consumption is now. From FORTUNE:
"But the lack of centralized gatekeepers—or rather, the outsourcing of the gatekeeper function of mainstream media—also means there is no consensus on who is telling the truth, and that is a genie that is not going back into the bottle any time soon."
Critics from the alternative media argue the mainstream media is a collection of hypocrites—they engage in the same bad practices they accuse others of. To be fair, most mainstream sources of media are not as conspiratorial as many alternative media sites are.
And relying on data hackers and WikiLeaks could have terrible consequences for things like personal privacy, when there is no one to step in and practice any sort of editorial judgment. Do you want your personal information all over the Internet?
We've replaced our trust in journalism with trust in data thieves. Transparency or privacy? Can't have both at once. https://t.co/EBZRI5BhQl