Local journalism faces a wide range of threats in 2021—from a disrupted business model to competition from monopolistic technology platforms to industry-wide battles over consolidation and ownership. To address these existential threats, the industry—with encouragement and support from nonprofit groups like The Lenfest Institute—is working hard to come up with solutions.
But even as publishers work to overcome these challenges, local journalism may face an even more severe long-term imperative: Preserving trust from readers. Americans trust local news substantially more than national news sources, according to data from the Knight Foundation, the World Economic Forum, and the Pew Research Center. But a variety of mis- and disinformation forces are simultaneously exploiting and undermining that trust. Moreover, as trustworthy media sources struggle to compete digitally, many of the practices that built deep trust in media over decades in print, television and radio formats may not transfer easily to digital formats without a specific effort to do so.
In this Pennsylvania Media Trust Report, we examine the issue of trust and integrity for media coverage in and about Pennsylvania. The report utilizes trust ratings and reporting from NewsGuard, data about social media engagement from NewsWhip, and resources collated from NewsGuard, The Lenfest Institute, and other organizations to answer three key questions:
- What is the current state of media trust as it relates to publications in Pennsylvania or covering Pennsylvania news?
- What are the major threats to trust in local news in Pennsylvania?
- What can Pennsylvania publishers do to improve trust among readers, viewers, or listeners? This report was prepared by NewsGuard, a company that deploys journalists to rate the credibility and transparency practices of thousands of news organizations worldwide, flagging misinformation sources and narratives in the process.
The report was produced with funding from and in partnership with The Lenfest Institute.