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Trust in Media Is Crucial: How You Can Help by Reading the News
Gallup Blog

Trust in Media Is Crucial: How You Can Help by Reading the News

by Kristjan Archer and Zacc Ritter

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' concerns about media bias are growing, and the implications for society are magnified when the nation is in crisis. The coronavirus pandemic and recent nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd underscore the need for trusted, credible sources of journalism when the stakes are high. In an effort to better understand Americans' diverse views toward the free press, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation partnered with Gallup in 2017 to study the issues of trust, media and democracy.

For the past three years, Gallup and the Knight Foundation have examined a variety of topics culminating in 11 in-depth reports and numerous articles. This research has revealed significant insights into Americans' perspectives on media issues, but we also recognize the limitations of respondents' self-reports of their attitudes and, especially, their behaviors.

Moreover, the data necessary to examine important questions on how the internet shapes the way Americans consume news online are hard to find. For instance, after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, several social media companies restricted academic researchers' access to user data over privacy concerns. In the case of Facebook, this decision led to a 20-month delay for researchers seeking to assess social media's impact on elections and democracy.

A New U.S. Media Platform

In response to these issues, the Gallup-Knight partnership created NewsLens in 2018 as an expansion of the research tools available to advance knowledge about the relationships between public trust, the media and democracy.

Inspired by the notion of citizen science, NewsLens is a news aggregator website that invites Americans to read stories and engage with content from across the political spectrum. NewsLens users provide informed consent to record their actions, including what articles they read, rate, like and share.

In 2018, we invited members of the Gallup Panel -- a probability-based online survey panel -- to participate in NewsLens. This initial research yielded interesting results covered in The New York Times and provided a proof of concept that we could use NewsLens to understand the online information environment and its role in shaping Americans' opinions and behaviors. Since then, our team has updated the prototype platform in order to make the user experience even better.

On Monday, July 27, in the runup to the 2020 election, Gallup and the Knight Foundation will open NewsLens to the public. We want anyone who is 18 and older in the U.S. to join and help us understand more about a basic activity that most people do every day -- read the news -- to be informed about your community, the country and the world at large. In exchange, participants can earn rewards for reading, rating and sharing articles.

Will you help us? You can sign up today online.

Learn more about NewsLens.

Check us out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @newslens2020

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