As you can see from the chart, the percentage of Americans who had a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust in the news media has declined from over 70 percent shortly after Watergate to about 44 percent today.
Why? That is my question in this post.
What makes it a puzzle is that during that same period, several other things were happening. Journalists were becoming better educated. They were more likely to go to journalism school, my institution. During this period, the cultural cachet of being a journalist was on the rise. Newsrooms were getting bigger, too: more boots on the ground to cover the news. Journalism was becoming less of a trade and more of a profession. Most people who study the press would say that the influence of professional standards, such as you would find in this code, was increasing.