transfer 24(1) » Rezeptions- und Wirkungsforschung

The influence of Donald Trump on news media trust in the United States

This Bachelor thesis investigated Donald Trump’s influence on news media trust in the United States. Furthermore, it looked further into media selection processes and how US citizens determine the general trustworthiness of their news sources. For this purpose, nine semi- structured interviews with US citizens of different partisan and demographic backgrounds have been conducted. There were three Democrats, two Republicans and four independents interviewed. The thesis was mainly based on research conducted by Matthias Kohring (2004) on so called “societal functional systems”, of which journalism is one.

The results of the study showed that there is a general mistrust into fact selectivity of the news media in the United States. Mostly all participants trusted the factuality of the events covered but many of them feel that the presented background information is biased towards the one side or the other. Further, an alarming extend of selective exposure was found across party lines. News outlet selection was heavily influenced by political views. Interestingly both interviewed Republicans stated, that their trust in the news media decreased since President Trump has been elected, while all other participants said that their trust remained unchanged or even increased. This shows a dependence of news media trust on partisanship. Finally, a specific influence of Donald Trump on news media trust in the US can not be proven by this explorative study, but it gives future researchers several reference points to start a larger investigation of the topic.