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Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public's view of other institutions. In this presidential campaign year, Democrats were more likely to trust the news media than Republicans or independents.
But trust today also goes beyond the traditional journalistic principles of accuracy, balance and fairness.
Faced with ever-increasing sources of information, Americans also are more likely to rely on news that is up-to-date, concise and cites expert sources or documents, according to a study by the Media Insight Project, a partnership of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute.
They want to be able to navigate the news app or website easily and quickly, without having to wade through intrusive or annoying ads.
"The skill set that journalists have to master is bigger," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. That's because the expectations of news consumers have increased.
The poll shows that accuracy clearly is the most important component of trust.
Nearly 90 percent of Americans say it's extremely or very important that the media get their facts correct, according to the study. About 4 in 10 say they can remember a specific incident that eroded their confidence in the media, most often one that dealt with accuracy or a perception that it was one-sided.
The news media have been hit by a series of blunders on high-profile stories ranging from the Supreme Court's 2012 ruling on President Barack Obama's health care law to the Boston Marathon bombing that have helped feed negative perceptions of the media.
African-Americans, Hispanics, and people following stories about crime and public safety are particularly likely to say it's very important to see their communities and people who looked like them represented in reporting.