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June 10, 2021, 1:03 p.m.
LINK: www.pewresearch.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   June 10, 2021

Do Americans pay attention to individual bylines? When it comes to determining whether or not they can trust a news story, new research indicates Americans care much more about where a story is published than who reported it.

Half of Americans said they considered the news organization a very important factor in determining a story’s trustworthiness. Just 24% said the individual journalist who wrote the story was as important.

The new analysis from the Pew Research Center, published Wednesday, found that Americans also consulted their own gut instinct. About a third of U.S. adults said their intuition about a story was a “very important” factor in determining its trustworthiness and 77% said their gut reaction was at least a somewhat important factor.

Republicans (35%) were more likely than Democrats (26%) to rely on “gut instinct.” Black Americans (38%) were also more likely to point to instinct, compared to white Americans (30%), Hispanic Americans (26%), or Asian Americans (22%).

The research comes out of a larger project by the Pew Research Center to track news production and consumption in the early days of the Biden administration. Its analysis has been particularly concerned with the use of anonymous sources after an earlier study showed Americans think quoting anonymous sources is either “never acceptable” (18%) or “only acceptable in special cases” (67%).

In this analysis, 47% said the sources cited in a story were a very important factor when determining trustworthiness. Although just 22% of Americans said they paid very close attention to the sources cited in the news they read, watch, or listen to, another 45% said they were paying at least somewhat close attention.

Pew noted some generational differences in the results:

Older Americans are generally more likely than younger Americans to point to the news organization that publishes a story and the sources that are cited in it as critical factors when determining its trustworthiness.

For example, among those 65 and older, 57% say the news organization is a very important factor and 54% say the same about the sources cited. Smaller proportions of adults under 30 see these as very important factors (42% and 41%, respectively).

The researchers noted that the findings make some sense, given that previous surveys that found younger Americans are less likely to remember where stories they consumed were published.

You can read the full report here.

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