Americans are losing faith in an objective media. A new Gallup/Knight study explores why.

John Sands
Trust, Media and Democracy
6 min readAug 4, 2020


Update: On Nov. 9, 2020, Gallup updated the report “American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy,” to correct a methodological error. The changes do not alter the underlying integrity of the data nor the conclusions. However, specific numbers have changed for a range of results, and have been updated in this post. Learn more.

Americans have high aspirations for the news media to be a trusted, independent watchdog that holds the powerful to account. But in a new Gallup/Knight study, we’ve found the gap is growing between what Americans expect from the news and what they think they are getting. Perceptions of bias are increasing too, which further erodes the media’s ability to deliver on its promise to our democracy.

The landmark poll of 20,000 people found that Americans’ hope for an objective media is all but lost. Instead, they see an increasing partisan slant in the news, and a media eager to push an agenda. As a result, the media’s ability to hold leaders accountable is diminished in the public’s eye.

The study also explores the connections between political affiliation and attitudes toward the media, as well the public’s view ondiversity in newsrooms and the connection between local news consumption, civic engagement and community attachment.

A hallmark of Knight Foundation’s Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, “American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy” is a biennial report based on a poll that took place over last winter. It is one of the most comprehensive surveys of public opinion on the media, and holds important implications for the future of journalism and our democracy. You can read more below, or join a discussion of the findings in partnership with the Paley Center at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6.

Here are 10 findings that stood out to us:

  1. Americans see increasing bias in the news media: One of the primary reasons Americans don’t think the media works for them is because of the bias they perceive in coverage. Many feel the media’s traditional roles, such as…