According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans’ confidence in newspapers continues to erode, with fewer than one in four being confident in these news sources. As recently as 1979, over half of Americans (51 percent) had "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in newspapers, and today that figure has dropped to 23 percent.

It could be worse – institutions that have lower confidence ratings include big business, organized labor, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Congress. Television news scored the same percentage as newspapers at a confidence level of 23 percent, which was actually a higher number than the year before, when it only scored 21 percent. Television news’ highest reading came in 1993 when 46 percent of Americans had confidence in the channel.

Reasons cited for the eroding confidence in newspapers and television news are the 24/7 news cycle, social networking sites, user-generated content sites, and the partisan nature of many cable news networks that skews the news reporting to the left or right of the political spectrum.

Conservative-leaning consumers have the lowest confidence in newspapers at only 15 percent, while liberals tend to have the highest, with 31 percent stating that they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them. While conservatives also have the least amount of confidence in television news at 18 percent, moderates and liberals seem to have more confidence in this news channel than they did last year.

Nationally, Americans across all key demographic and economic groups have expressed low levels of confidence in news institutions. This is an unfortunate development for legitimate journalism. As newspapers continue to drastically cut back the quality of editorial content and at the same time refuse to invest in promoting the value of credible news sources, this trend may accelerate as consumers find less and less to meaningfully engage and inform them when perusing the print or online editions of their local newspaper.