Trust in Media 2023: What news outlets do Americans trust most for information?

Linley SandersData Journalist
May 08, 2023, 1:00 PM GMT+0

The divide between Democrats and Republicans on which news sources are trustworthy remains stark.

Last year, The Economist / YouGov published the results of a poll asking Americans where they get their news from and how much they trusted 22 prominent media organizations. YouGov revisited the topic this year by asking Americans to share how much trust they place in even more broadcast, digital, print, and social media outlets: 56 in total.

In this year's trust in media poll — conducted from April 3 - 9, 2023 — YouGov asked Americans to say whether they trust, distrust, or neither trust nor distrust the media organizations. From the results, it is possible to determine each outlet's net trust score – that is, how much more likely Americans are to say the outlet is trustworthy or very trustworthy than untrustworthy or very untrustworthy.

Even with the additions to the group of outlets polled about, The Weather Channel remains the most trusted news source among Americans overall. Americans are 53 points more likely to call The Weather Channel trustworthy as they are to call it untrustworthy. It's also the only outlet that YouGov asked about that more Democrats (+64) and Republicans (+47) trust than the shares who distrust it. The Weather Channel is just one of two outlets polled about that a majority of Republicans trust; the other one is Fox News (56% of Republicans trust it, with a net trust score among them of +41).

When it comes to the national rankings, The Weather Channel is followed by national public broadcaster PBS (+30), the U.K. news outlet BBC (+29), and The Wall Street Journal (+24) in national trust. This year's poll has the same group in the top four as last year's poll — even with the additions to this year's poll.

There also are more people who trust than distrust Forbes (+23), the Associated Press (+22), ABC (+21), USA Today (+21), CBS (+20), and Reuters (+20). Only a handful of outlets from the list are viewed by more Americans as untrustworthy than the share who view it as trustworthy: Infowars (-16), the Daily Caller (-4), Breitbart News (-3), and Daily Kos (-1).

In this poll, the three broadcast networks had similar levels of trust, while there was a slightly lower level of trust in each of the three cable networks: 44% say they trust ABC, 43% trust CBS, 42% trust NBC, 40% trust CNN, 38% trust Fox News, and 36% trust MSNBC.

The findings on trust in several TV networks differ from those of a different YouGov poll question publicized recently. In an advertisement in the New York Times earlier this month/last month, Fox News cited separate YouGov data showing that 41% trust Fox News, compared to 24% who trust ABC News, 22% who trust CNN, 22% for CBS, 21% for NBC, and 18% for MSNBC. In contrast, the 2023 Trust in Media Poll found higher percentages distrusting Fox News (35%) compared to CNN and MSNBC (33% and 30%), though the differences are not statistically significant.

The main differences between the 2023 Trust in Media Poll and the results from YouGov’s Profiles reported in the Fox advertisement are:

  • Poll results can differ significantly when they are conducted differently and at different times. The Trust in Media Poll was conducted with YouGov's latest methodology for measuring trust in media outlets and is based on opinion as of April 2023. It gives respondents the option to say whether they trust or don't trust each outlet, with gradations for small differences of opinion. ("Trustworthy" vs. "very trustworthy.") They are also able to say they are neutral on an outlet's trustworthiness (finding them "neither trustworthy nor untrustworthy") or "not sure" of their opinion.
  • The other poll, cited by Fox News in the New York Times, was from YouGov Profiles — an audience identification tool that combines data collected over an extensive period from multiple sources. The data are available to Profiles subscribers for audience identification purposes only. The data cited by Fox News in the New York Times advertisement is not the result of any recent nationally representative survey — the question reported was only asked of people who get their news from television, resulting in a sample that skews older.

As was the case last year, there are still very few news organizations that are considered trustworthy by sizable proportions of both Democrats and Republicans. The cable news outlet CNN is the most politically polarizing media source we asked about. There is a 92-point difference between Democrats' net trust (+55) and Republicans' net trust (-37) in CNN, a frequent target of former President Donald Trump.

The other outlets that have the largest chasm in trust between Democrats and Republicans — both of them trusted more by Democrats — are MSNBC and the New York Times. There is a 91-point difference between how Democrats (+54) and Republicans (-37) view MSNBC and an 82-point difference in how they view the New York Times (+53 vs. -30).

How Americans' trust in media has changed from 2022 to 2023

There was an increase in net trust in 2023 for each of the 22 outlets we also asked about in 2022, with the largest increases in trust for USA Today, TIME Magazine, Fox News, MSNBC, and ABC. (Most sources asked about this year weren't in last year's poll, which included fewer media outlets.) A steady increase for all outlets could be the result of a broad-based increase in trust in media, or the result of differences in what came before the trust questions in each year's poll — or both. Among seven outlets rated for trust in both the Economist / YouGov poll last year and a similar one in 2020, six had a drop in net trust in 2022 compared to 2020.

How Americans view news shared on social media

In addition to asking about traditional media outlets, YouGov also asked about the news that is shared on 11 different social media platforms. Americans generally have a net negative view of the trustworthiness of news shared on prominent social media platforms, with TikTok (-36), Snapchat (-26), and Facebook (-22) earning the lowest net trust scores.

LinkedIn was the only platform with a positive net trust score for news (+3), mostly due to Democrats' trust in the outlet. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to trust news shared on LinkedIn (+22 vs. -5), YouTube (+17 vs. -5), and Reddit (+6 vs. -15). Republicans are more likely to trust news shared on the social media platform created by Trump — Truth Social (-17 for Democrats vs. +7 for Republicans) — and Parler (-17 vs. +4), a social media platform that claims to champion free speech. (Parler was shut down on April 14, but was active during the poll's fielding.)

Younger Americans are more likely than older adults to trust the news shared on each of the social media platforms asked about. Adults under 45 have a positive net trust score for many of the social media platforms asked about, with the highest among the group for news shared on YouTube (+27), LinkedIn (+21), Twitter (+14), and WhatsApp (+12). For each platform asked about, Americans who are 45 and older are more likely to view the news shared there as untrustworthy than trustworthy.

— Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this poll and its analysis

Editor's Note: While several of the media outlets or social media networks are YouGov clients, no client had any involvement in this poll or analysis.

See the results from this YouGov poll conducted April 3 - 9, 2023


Methodology: The poll was conducted among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens from April 3 - 9, 2023. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Adobe Stock (Tada Images)