Misinformation and the Media

January 28, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 3
Can legitimate news outlets regain trust in the “fake news” era?
By Glen Justice


Experts say the growing amount of false information being spread by some politicians, social media and cable news is undermining trust in the mainstream media and damaging the nation's physical and political health. With Americans deeply divided over politics, the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice, trust in mass media fell to new lows in the last five years. The distrust was stoked by former President Donald Trump, who called reporters “the enemy of the people” and their work “fake news,” even as media fact-checkers counted more than 30,000 false or misleading claims Trump made during his term. Some analysts say the distrust also is exacerbated by the rise of highly partisan cable news networks, a largely unregulated social media landscape and the decline of local news outlets. Many schools are teaching students how to determine the veracity of information, especially what they find online. Some analysts warn that democracy cannot thrive if Americans cannot agree on what is truth and fact.

Photo of Trump supporters protesting the ballot-counting in Detroit, Michigan, on November 5, 2020. (AFP/Getty Images/Seth Herald)
Supporters of Donald Trump protesting the ballot-counting in Detroit the day after the 2020 election wear masks imprinted with “fake news” — Trump's frequent epithet for the mainstream media. The former president still claims he won the election, perhaps the largest of more than 30,000 false or misleading claims he made during his term, according to fact checkers. Some say such misinformation is undermining faith in the media and in U.S. democracy. (AFP/Getty Images/Seth Herald)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Journalism, Newspapers, and the Media
Jan. 28, 2022  Misinformation and the Media
Oct. 02, 2020  Social Media Platforms
Sep. 18, 2020  The News Media
Aug. 24, 2018  Conspiracy Theories
Jun. 09, 2017  Trust in Media
May 30, 2014  Digital Journalism
May 03, 2013  Media Bias
Apr. 26, 2013  Free Speech at Risk
Apr. 12, 2013  Combat Journalism
Nov. 2010  Press Freedom
Oct. 08, 2010  Journalism Standards in the Internet Age
Feb. 05, 2010  Press Freedom
Mar. 27, 2009  Future of Journalism Updated
Jun. 09, 2006  Blog Explosion Updated
Jan. 20, 2006  Future of Newspapers
Apr. 08, 2005  Free-Press Disputes
Oct. 15, 2004  Media Bias
Oct. 10, 2003  Media Ownership Updated
Dec. 25, 1998  Journalism Under Fire
Jun. 05, 1998  Student Journalism
Sep. 20, 1996  Civic Journalism
Sep. 23, 1994  Courts and the Media
Aug. 24, 1990  Hard Times at the Nation's Newspapers
Jan. 19, 1990  Finding Truth in the Age of ‘Infotainment’
Aug. 18, 1989  Libel Law: Finding the Right Balance
Jun. 06, 1986  Magazine Trends
Oct. 12, 1984  News Media and Presidential Campaigns
Jul. 15, 1983  State of American Newspapers
Oct. 23, 1981  High Cost of Libel
Dec. 23, 1977  Media Reforms
Mar. 11, 1977  News Media Ownership
Jun. 21, 1974  Access to the Media
Dec. 20, 1972  Newsmen's Rights
Aug. 16, 1972  Blacks in the News Media
Dec. 15, 1971  Magazine Industry Shake-Out
Jul. 18, 1969  Competing Media
Sep. 02, 1964  Politicians and the Press
Dec. 04, 1963  Libel Suits and Press Freedom
Jan. 09, 1963  Newspaper Mergers
Dec. 20, 1961  Reading Boom: Books and Magazines
Dec. 02, 1959  Privileged Communications
Apr. 25, 1956  Newsprint Deficit
May 06, 1953  Government and the Press
Sep. 21, 1948  Press and State
Sep. 05, 1947  Newsprint Supply
Mar. 26, 1947  Facsimile Newspapers
Dec. 10, 1945  World Press Freedom
May 01, 1940  New Experiments in Newspaper-Making
Nov. 04, 1933  Press Freedom Under the Recovery Program
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Wars
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Freedom of Information
General Social Trends
Infectious Diseases
Internet and Social Media
Journalism and the News
Lobbying and Special Interests
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Print Media
Protest Movements
Radio and Television
Reapportionment and Redistricting
Regulation and Deregulation
Regulation and Legal Issues
Supreme Court History and Decisions
Telecommunications and Wireless Technologies