Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Poll: Online news sites distrusted more than Congress

September 18, 2012 by NCC Staff


The annual AP-National Constitution Center Poll contains some sobering news for online journalists and bloggers: Americans have a higher regard for Congress than web publishers.

In many various polls about public perception of Congress, the institution has usually ranked at the bottom of public approval indicators.

But in a twist, online news media and independent or citizen media have replaced Congress as the least trusted of all American institutions, earning high confidence marks from just 10 percent of those polled.

The new AP-National Constitution Center Poll, conducted in August 2012, tracks public opinion on constitutional issues, as well as 18 different institutions.

Complete AP-NCC poll results are available at

Congress still ranked low in the AP-NCC Poll, with just 11 percent. The U.S. military once again earned the deepest public trust, holding the confidence of 57 percent of Americans.

The recent Supreme Court rulings on health care and immigration did little to change the public’s opinion of the Court.  It ranked fourth lowest among the 18 institutions, with  a 24 percent confidence rating.

But it was online media’s handling of the Supreme Court’s health care decision that put another dent in its reputation as an accurate news source.

High confidence in Institutions Percent
Blogs/citizen media 10
Online news 10
U.S. Congress 11
Banks 13
Federal government 13
Print media 13
TV and cable news 14
Organized labor 15
Major companies 16
State government 17
Local government 20
Organized religion 20
Public schools 24
State courts 24
Supreme Court 24
Scientific community 43
Small/local business 49
Military 57
Source: AP-NCC Poll

Several online sources, including CNN, reported the wrong verdict from the high court.

And there seems to be long-term issues that could be reinforcing a negative public opinion about the online industry in general.

A Harris Interactive poll in July showed high levels of distrust in the Internet, in general. And a Gallup study from last September found record distrust levels for the media.

Similar polling data from Gallup in June showed the military as the most-trusted American institution and Congress as the least trusted. But the Gallup survey didn’t include opinions about the online news business and bloggers.

A June study from Triton Digital also showed that online media was the least trusted news source among news consumers.

Only 12.5 percent of people trusted Internet-only news sources in the Triton study and social media updates were trusted by just 4.5 percent of people.

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