There is a glimmer of good news on the media landscape, even as layoffs and an election loom.

A Morning Consult poll found that trust in several specific, large-scale media outlets are beginning to rebound from the lowest depth of 2020’s crisis of confidence.

To be clear, it isn’t a massive surge in trust. Fifty-five percent of American adults reported at least some level of trust in these media outlets:

  • ABC News
  • CBS News
  • NBC News
  • CNN
  • Fox News
  • CNBC
  • The New York Times
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • NPR

That’s an increase of 4 points from its 2020 low of 51%. But what’s most interesting here is that Republicans, traditionally the most skeptical political party toward mainstream media, is beginning to regain some level of trust — and not just in Fox News.

Republican trust in these outlets still lags the overall population at 46% trust (comparatively, 69% of Democrats have at least some trust in these outlets). But each network has seen some growth in trust since the chaos of 2020, where mistrust in media became a campaign talking point — all save one.

Democrats have seen their trust in Fox News increase since 2020, likely in part due to actions including correctly calling the election for Joe Biden, increased fact-checking of Donald Trump and more. But likely for those same reasons, Fox News has not seen a rebound among Republican viewers. Granted, its credibility with those on the right still far, far outranks any other network — but it hasn’t yet reached the heady highs of the core Trump years. Similarly, Fox News is the most mistrusted network among Democrats, and ranks third lowest among all Americans, behind MSNBC and NPR.

The most trusted news sources among all Americans are the broadcast television networks, with ABC claiming the edge, followed closely by CBS and then NBC. The two newspapers polled for, the Times and the Journal, just edged out CNN in the trust department.

A graph showing trust in nine media outlets. Graph provided by Morning Consult.

What it means for PR pros

Any time there’s increased trust in the media, it’s good for public relations practitioners. It makes it that much easier to get the right messages in front of an audience more inclined to believe those messengers.

But trust is still low, especially with Republicans. That means if you’re trying to reach an audience that skews white, older and Christian, you may have more limited options for trusted media. Fox News is still a safe bet, and you can find some success among network news, but outside that, it could be harder to establish trust.

While network news is most trusted across the board, it also presents meager opportunities for pitching, with fewer hours to fill than cable news. So, no practitioner can put all their eggs in that basket.

It’s also important to note that this survey is only looking at some of the top-line, biggest outlets in the country. Other surveys reveal that Americans of all parties generally have higher trust in have higher trust in general in local news, making that a viable option for communicating via trusted journalists. Thispresents other challenges as local news continues to wither in the face of scorching economic and industry headwinds. But where local TV and papers continue to thrive, it’s a worthwhile trust-building tool.

As we move into what’s certain to be one of the most divisive elections in American history, the media you choose to help tell stories will reflect on your organization. Consider your audience, their trust and your needs. Then, pitch with tact and care.

Good luck.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on or LinkedIn.

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