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WA Poll: How much trust do Washingtonians have in the news media?

Trust in news media is generally low, with local media outlets scoring highest with people who responded to a statewide survey.
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Reporters hold out microphones and audio recorders during a press event.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — For decades we relied on television or print publications to get our news.

But the times have changed thanks, in part, to technology enabling us to get our news whenever, wherever.

"I remember a time where, you know, five o'clock, six o'clock, [sitting] down with my mom and dad and watching the news," said Amir Boarman.

Boarman trusted those news broadcasts. He was one of 825 adults asked in a WA Poll how much they trust news sources. As it turns out, there isn't much trust. 

On a scale of 1-10, trust in local TV news outlets was the most trusted, with a rating of 5.6. Local newspapers and PBS received a rating of 5.4. National newspapers received a rating of 5.1. The rest received ratings below 5.

Boarman said he refuses to watch some national networks because he doesn't believe what they're reporting. 

Bruce Pinkleton, dean of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication in Washington state, is part of a collaboration with the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public. They have been working to combat misinformation and rebuild trust in the media.

A healthy democracy depends on higher levels of trust than we're seeing," Pinkleton said. "That's why this is an issue we have to focus on."

There's a tendency for people to become cynical and "opt out of the political process," he added. "And what we're really encouraging is for people to be skeptical instead and to lean in to learn more, basically."

Not everything has changed over the years, however. Despite attempts by social media companies, survey respondents said they still choose to get their news from traditional media. 

When asked how often they relied on social media for news, respondents said they go to YouTube or Facebook. Still, on a scale of 1-10, those scored 3.6 and 3.3, respectively. 

The WA Poll was commissioned by KING 5, The Seattle Times, University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication and was conducted by SurveyUSA. It surveyed 825 adults from July 6-10, 2022. Of those adults, 731 were registered voters. The poll represented the demographics of Washington state with 47% from the metro Seattle area, 32% from western Washington and 21% from eastern Washington.

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