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Local News Media Considered Less Biased Than National News

Local News Media Considered Less Biased Than National News

Story Highlights

  • 42% of U.S. adults say national news too liberal; 26% say local news is
  • 80% of Republicans say national news, 50% say local news is too liberal
  • More than three in five Democrats say local, national news just right

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Research from Gallup earlier this year found that although a majority of Americans continue to mistrust the media in general, they trust local news sources far more than national sources. Gallup's latest polling on the subject reinforces this finding that the public perceives less ideological bias in local news than in the national news media.

While 53% of U.S. adults think their local news media is ideologically "just about right," fewer, 39%, say the same of the national news media. A 42% plurality of Americans think the national media is "too liberal" and 13% say it is "too conservative." While more Americans think their local news is too liberal (26%) rather than too conservative (15%), the figures are lower than those seen for the national media.

Bar charts. Americans’ perceptions of the ideological balance of national and local news media.

These latest readings, from a Sept. 16-30 poll, mark the second time Gallup has asked the questions about political bias in national and local news. The previous overall findings, from 2007, were nearly identical to the current findings.

Partisans' Differing Views of National and Local News Media

Partisans' views differ significantly, as Republicans are much more likely than Democrats and independents to say both the national and local news media are too liberal.

The 80% of Republicans who now think the national news media are too liberal is more than five times the 14% of Democrats and double the 39% of independents who hold this view. Likewise, 50% of Republicans, 6% of Democrats and 25% of independents say their local news media are too liberal.

Bar charts. U.S. adults’, including partisans’ perceptions of the ideological balance of national and local news media.

Partisans' views are slightly different now from what they were in 2007. Republicans have become a bit more likely to say both the national (+7 percentage points) and local news media (+6 points) are too liberal, while Democrats have become slightly less likely to say the same. Independents' views are unchanged from 2007.


While Americans consider local news media to be less politically biased than national media, recent changes in the local news landscape may alter their views in the future. As local news outlets in the U.S. struggle to find a sustainable business model, large national companies have acquired local news organizations in different markets. Recent examples include the impending merger between Gannett and Gatehouse media, as well as Republican-leaning Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns nearly 200 local television stations nationwide.

Polling from the Gallup-Knight Foundation series on trust, media and democracy finds that Americans are nearly unanimously concerned that mergers such as these could result in the political views of the owners influencing local news coverage. If local news outlets are increasingly consolidated under large national organizations, particularly those with political ties, the distinction between ideological bias in local and national news media may fade away.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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