Often referred to as the “Fourth Estate”, the media plays an important role in any democratic society. A free press is essential to holding governments accountable and informing the public, thus enabling voters to partake in political debate and make qualified decisions.
The United States also has a long history of a free and independent press, with organizations such as the New York Times, TIME or CNN renowned and respected around the world. In recent years however, Americans themselves started losing faith in their country’s media organizations. Possibly inspired by a presidential candidate who made no secret of his aversion towards the press, the percentage of U.S. adults having a great deal or a fair amount of trust and confidence in mass media dropped to a historic low of 32 percent in 2016, according to Gallup data. Since then, some trust has been recovered, but 2019 saw the level of trust in American media deteriorate again after consecutive improvements in 2017 and 2018.