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June 27, 2018

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New Study Shows Why Americans Struggle to Trust the Media

Could better communication and simplicity be the key to improving public faith in the American news media? New research by the Media Insight Project — an initiative co-founded by the American Press Institute — found that 32 percent of Americans trust their favorite news organization more than they did a year ago.

However, many readers struggle with media literacy. Half of the study’s respondents don’t know what an “op-ed” is, and nearly three in 10 can’t tell the difference between an “editorial” and a “news story.” In addition, 43 percent of respondents aren’t clear on what “attribution” means, with 42 percent not understanding how anonymous sourcing works either.

To close this knowledge gap, the Media Insight Project recommends that news outlets eliminate jargon in their stories and be clear with article labeling, so that a reader isn’t forced to guess whether a story is based on opinion or facts.

“The good news is that progress seems achievable,” the project says. “In addition to shared ideals, the survey finds a substantial desire on the part of both journalists and the public for more transparency.”

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