Media Consumption Habits: BuzzFeed Distrusted, Unheard Of

The days of trusting Walter Cronkite to explain the news are long gone, and here to replace them are the likes of NPR, Fox News and BuzzFeed. But do readers believe their reporting? Not always, according to a newly released Pew Research Center study about political polarization and media habits.

Only 2 percent of the study’s overall respondents said they trust BuzzFeed, the social news and entertainment website known for its lists and viral content. Eight percent overall said they distrust it.

Pew examined how many people knew of certain sources, too, because when outlets become better-known, more people have an opinion of them. In BuzzFeed’s case, 31 percent of overall respondents had heard of it, according to Talking Points Memo. About a quarter of people familiar with the site distrusted it, 7 percent trusted it and 68 percent didn’t feel one way or another.

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith isn’t concerned, though. “Most of the great news organizations have been around for decades, and trust is something you earn over time,” Smith wrote in an email to Talking Points Memo. “Our organization is new, our news operation is even newer, and it’s early days for us. The more people know BuzzFeed News, especially young people who are make up a small share of these surveys, the more they trust us.”

By comparison, the overall most trusted news outlet is the Economist, but its reach is small — only 34 percent of respondents had heard of it, according to the study. Joining the Economist on the list of outlets more trusted than distrusted were CNN (54 percent do, 20 percent don’t), the New York Times (34 percent do, 17 percent don’t) and Fox News (44 percent do, 37 percent don’t).

Sources that were about equally trusted and distrusted overall included the Huffington Post and the Colbert Report. The Glenn Beck Program (10 percent do, 24 percent don’t), the Rush Limbaugh Show (12 percent do, 39 percent don’t) and Al Jazeera America (9 percent do, 16 percent don’t) were among sources that were more distrusted than trusted.

Rob Cesternino

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