Rebuilding trust in media starts with learning proper news consumption



The Editorial Board

For the first time in United States’ history, trust in the media has dropped to the point where “fewer than half of all Americans have trust in traditional media,” according to an Axios report from the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, which measures public trust in American institutions.

In fact, that same report reveals that 56% of Americans believe journalists are trying to mislead the public.

This lack of trust is astounding, especially since journalists risk their reputations and lives in order to bring truth to society.

Although it may be too late to significantly educate the current population of people who distrust the media, there is time to instill trust between the news organizations and the public by starting with America’s future voters: the youth.

In particular, high schoolers could be required to take a media literacy class. This would include topics like fact-checking, bias and discerning between opinions and facts, which are important indicators of whether a source of news should be believed or not.

Students could also learn about navigating different types of media. Print newspapers are seen as reliable sources of news, but nowadays people are turning to social media platforms for news, which aren’t always truthful.

Another important point to note is that the public has extremes in terms of media consumption, where some people go as far as to avoid any form of news while others trust any news they find online, no matter the source.

To address the first part of not believing any news, taking a media literacy class would also mean that students overall would become more media savvy individuals.

Through analyzing websites and sources to see which are credible, students would also become more knowledgeable of current events, important names in the news and how different pieces of legislation impact them.

This knowledge would mean the difference between casting a ballot with incorrect or no insight on a topic versus voting with purpose.

Still, high schoolers would need to learn to take websites with a grain of salt and analyze them to see how reliable they are. Considering high schoolers especially spend hours on social media apps, learning about what news to trust on those apps could help them from believing lies.

Lastly, media literacy doesn’t just apply to the news, but to other facets of life as well. For instance, the topic would include learning about an article’s purpose, who it is written for, who is writing it and why it is important.

Having an awareness of these points would give high schoolers transitioning to college and entering the workforce an advantage over peers without media literacy, as many of those traits overlap with other industries where one must work with clients, like marketing, advertising, graphic design, architecture, writing and even finance.