More Americans are getting more news more often now on mobile than ever before and a stark difference has developed about the watchdog role of journalists.
“Nearly half of U.S. adults (45%) often get news on a mobile device,” reports the Pew Center. “That is 9 percentage points above just a year ago, when 36% often got news this way, with significant growth occurring among Democrats but not Republicans.
“What’s more, an increasing share of Americans also prefer getting news on mobile over a desktop computer. Among those who get news on both types of devices, nearly two-thirds (65%) say they prefer mobile.”
“Today, in the early days of the Trump administration, roughly nine-in-ten Democrats (89%) say news media criticism keeps leaders in line…while only about four-in-ten Republicans (42%) say the same,” reports Pew. “That is a 47-percentage-point gap.”
The center points out that stark gap has widened significantly, even in the last year.
“The gap stands in sharp contrast to January-February 2016, when Americans were asked the same question,” the center explained. “Then, in the midst of the presidential primary season, nearly the same share of Democrats (74%) and Republicans (77%) supported the watchdog role.
Asking Americans about the watchdog role of the press is not a new question for the Pew Center. But the new wide disparity between Republicans and Democrats on the role of journalists has never been seen before.
“Pew Research Center has asked this question since 1985,” it said. “While Republicans have been more likely to support a watchdog role during Democratic presidencies and vice versa, the distance between the parties has never approached the 47-point gap that exists today. The widest gap up to now occurred during the George W. Bush administration, when Democrats were 28 points more likely than Republicans to support a watchdog role.”
The survey results also suggest only 11 percent of Republicans say journalists are trustworthy – a four-point decreased from 2016 – while only 34 percent of Democrats agree national news organizations are trustworthy.
And 87 percent of Republicans say journalists favor one party over another while 53 percent of Democrats take the same view.
It appears, too, Democrats are driving the increase in personal news readership on mobile devices.
“(The) significant growth occurring among Democrats but not Republicans,” reports Pew. “What’s more, an increasing share of Americans also prefer getting news on mobile over a desktop computer. Among those who get news on both types of devices, nearly two-thirds (65%) say they prefer mobile.”
The results roughly parallel a GlobalWorldIndex survey published earlier this month which suggested, worldwide, 60 percent of online people get news from mobile devices.
Trust in news, social media low
While previous Pew Center surveys have suggested many Americans get news from the social media, the most recent survey also suggests Americans don’t believe much of the news they read anywhere online, especially the social media.
“As in 2016, few Americans express high levels of trust in news they get from professional news organizations or from their social connections,” Pew reports. “Just one-fifth of adults say they trust information they get from national news organizations ‘a lot.’ Slightly more (25%) say this of news from local news organizations, while slightly fewer (15%) place a lot of trust in the information they get from friends and family.
“Lower than all three is social media. Even as we know Americans rely heavily on social media for their news – which is often at least partly filled by posts from friends and family – they continue to have very low trust in information from social networking sites. Just 5% of web-using U.S. adults have a lot of trust in the information they get there, nearly identical to the 4% who said so in 2016.
The Republican-Democrat split persists, too, in the trust issue.
“Among these four sources, trust of national news organizations has the largest partisan divide, and it grew substantially since 2016,” said the center. “Roughly a third of Democrats (34%) express a lot of trust in news they get from national news organizations, compared with just 11% of Republicans, a 23-point gap. In 2016, Democrats also reported higher rates of trust in the national news media, but the difference was more modest (27% compared with 15% among Republicans).”