It’s clear from any number of measures that people don’t trust or even particularly like the media. (Anyone who works in media might remind you that “the media” is not actually the monolithic or coordinated entity it is often accused of being—which is, of course, precisely the kind of reaction that makes the media unlikeable.)
Today, just 6 percent of people in the United States say they have a lot of confidence in media, according to a survey by the Media Insight Project, a significantly lower score than Congress’s 17 percent approval rating, according to Gallup.
The disillusion in media, it seems, is eroding people’s loyalty to individual news brands—or, at least, distrust and decreasing loyalty are happening simultaneously in an age when news consumers have more options than ever for finding news.
Increasingly, instead of foraging for information out on the open web, people often begin and end with Facebook, where news is served up buffet-style in timelines also peppered with baby photos, political gripes, and other personalized missives from friends and family. What people outside of the media industry may not realize is that Facebook drives an enormous amount of traffic to news sites, more than 40 percent of it for many big publishers, making media companies heavily reliant on the tech giant for the kind of attention that ostensibly gets converted into ad dollars. Given the fact that Facebook isn’t just a news site, it’s reasonable to assume it would fare just fine if major publishers stopped posting content to the site. In a crowded journalistic field where traffic from Facebook is broadly seen as essential, such a move would arguably only hurt those publishers.