Local newspapers rank higher than national mainstream media, Gallup poll finds

Jerry Bellune

Nov 1, 2023

You’ve undoubtedly seen Gallup’s latest dismal findings about media credibility.

The public has less faith in major metropolitan newspapers and cable news outlets, Gallup said.

The good news is that Gallup found the public believes in what we as community newspapers report is far better than national mainstream media.

Gallup found that local newspapers — many of them weekly or semi-weekly papers — plus local radio and TV are more reliable than what they read or see on national news outlets, including CNN and Fox News.

Gallup has found that the public is suspicious of what they believe could be fake news.

In October, a Gallup poll found that only 32% of Americans say that they would trust the mass media — including newspapers, radio and TV — either “a great deal” or “a fair amount” to report the news accurately and fairly. This matched an all-time low set in 2016.

In a widely contested U.S. election that year, 41% of adults said they were most likely to have “not very much” trust in the media.

In contrast, this year, the public has become even more jaded by what it sees as unreliable journalism.

A record-high 39% of US adults report having no trust at all in mass media — 28% more than in 2003.

This is only the second time, along with last year, that no confidence has surpassed having even a middling amount of trust in mass media reporting.

Gallup did not say how much of this is attributable to the growing divide between U.S. conservatives and progressives and the hostilities in Ukraine and Israel.

The gap between trust in local and national news has grown by 3% since Gallup’s findings in 2019.

In 2021, Americans were 17 points more likely to say they trust reporting by local news organizations “a great deal” or “quite a lot” than to trust reporting by national news organizations.

In 2019, Americans were 14 points more likely to trust local news compared with national news.

That’s consistent with the finding that Americans are paying less attention to national news.

The gap appears driven by a decline in trust in national news, falling from 31% in 2019 to 27% in 2021.

How to interview anybody

Your guidelines for interviewing anybody are thankfully similar.

Your subject may be the President of the United States or the woman who just won best arrangement at the local flower show.

1. Do your research, even if it’s only talking with those who arranged the flower show about the winner.

2. Agree to a location including their office or home.
They will feel more relaxed and open to answering your questions.

3. Show up on time. Show up even 15 minutes early and be prepared to wait until the subject is ready,

I once waited three hours after the agreed interview time to talk with a corporate big shot. He was probably testing me. He did not mention the long delay, and neither did I. Had he apologized, I would have accepted it, but the long delay was going into my story.

4. Dress professionally — no jeans or a tux. Wear what you would or should wear to work or a wedding.

5. Be respectful, whether it's the flower show lady or the President.

Don’t act as if you are a star-struck fan or doing them a favor.

Celebrities and other important people put on their clothes just as you do. You are a professional, and so are they — or should be.

I’ve been fortunate to interview presidents, prime ministers and other heads of state, professional athletes, religious leaders, military brass, movie and TV stars and even Apollo 13 command pilot Jim Lovell.

My approach was like the flower show winner; use these guidelines.

Use warm-up questions in an easy, non-investigative manner. Make these warm-up questions the kind you would feel comfortable answering about yourself.

Use probing but respectful questions later in the interview.

Use a search engine on their name. We prefer DuckDuckGo.com because it does not track or sell our data \\as Google and other search engines do.

Next: When they won’t talk

Jerry Bellune is a writing coach and author of “The Art of Compelling Writing, Volume 1.” Coaching your writers (and editors) takes time you might not have. An option is to order copies for them of my book, The Art of Compelling Writing, now available for $9.99 at Amazon.com