What are Americans looking for in a reliable source of political information? As was mentioned in the previous article, American trust in news media organizations is hovering around all-time lows; such as 32% from Gallup in 2016. The question we’re going to look at today points at another dynamic at the core of why American politics is the warzone that it is today. There is a real hunger for a reliable source of political information because none of the existing sources of information are getting the job done. Describing specifically what such a reliable source of political information looks like is difficult, however, because the description varies widely depending on whom you ask and America is filled with people who think very differently. We at Political Rankings propose a good starting point is describing the inverse of what we know Americans are tired of with regards to dominant news media organizations (some examples of which were described in the previous article).

Nonpartisan

First thing, many Americans are looking for a reliable source of political information to be nonpartisan. Instead of only getting half the story from a left-wing or right-wing source of political information, or listening to both and being confused because the perspectives are polar opposites, Americans want to save time and get the whole story from 1 source of political information. Sometimes listening to both left-wing and right-wing sources of political information regarding a given story isn’t even possible anymore because if the event doesn’t fit in with one side’s narrative, they don’t cover it or devote near zero time to it. Americans crave to know that the source of political information won’t treat those on one side of the aisle with “kid gloves” while being overly critical to those on the other side. They also would like to know that any errors are genuinely honest mistakes, instead all errors conveniently going against one political party or another depending on the source of political information.

Comprehensive

Americans are also looking for a reliable source of political information to be comprehensive. A source of political information that puts thoroughness above speed; not one that cuts corners to get a news story out first/faster. Not that we’re saying that happens with absolutely every story coming from dominant news media organizations, but it happens enough with both left-wing or right-wing outlets that it’s become highly visible (and a point of critique). Attempting correct the errors is honorable and proper but when the correction only reaches a small fraction of the original audience, there are legitimate questions about how useful such a correction is overall (and how much it is just CYA). Americans want a source of political information that is knowledgeable about, and can provide information regarding, the goings on at all levels of government federal, state, and local. Yes, this is impossible for upstart or newly-founded sources of political information that simply don’t have the resources. It is hard to tell what Americans expect in such cases but the best path forward we at Political Rankings see is to rely on current news media organizations when necessary but otherwise do our own research.

Trustworthy

A reliable source of political information needs to be trustworthy. Americans want to know when they utilize their time to consume the content of a news media organization that they’re going to be told the truth and facts; not spin and opinions. Americans demand honesty and transparency, similar to how they demand it from government. They need to know if the TV news anchor, for example, giving them political information has potential conflicts of interest from literally working in a partisan capacity for one political party or another. If something about a current news story is not known or is highly speculative, Americans want a source of political information willing to admit it is unknown or withhold the information while it still being verified. Lastly Americans demand federal legislation be introduced to ban the use of all variations of the phrase “anonymous sources” from all news media organizations. Ok that last one is a joke, but Americans seriously would love to know (whenever possible) who is actually providing this or that piece of political information (it better not be some guy on Twitter), especially when it’s a big piece of information. They would like depictions, from news media organizations, of what Americans think about a news story to actually be representative of America (and not just what some people on Twitter said).

Conclusion

Maybe the image we’re painting of what a reliable source of political information is too rosy or impossible to obtain. But at the very least Americans are looking for a news media organization that they believe is pointed in the right direction, trying to achieve the traits mentioned in the article, and closer to obtaining them than the current options available. For anyone still wondering “why?” or “how important is all of this?,” remember the 32% statistic from the beginning of this article. We at Political Rankings are far from the first to recognize that America is headed to a very dangerous place when such a small percentage of Americans trust information they’re getting from news media organizations. Regarding to political information specifically, the link to America’s faith (or lack thereof recently) in the political process overall is clear. And if that dips too low, history is full of examples of the dire results that happen sooner or later. This is why America needs an organization like Political Rankings to be a nonpartisan, comprehensive, and trustworthy source of political information.

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