Have a Negative Opinion of News Media? You’re Less Likely to Spot Fake News, Study Shows

November 19, 2018, 10:17 PM UTC

People who loathe the news media have a harder time spotting fake news, a new study reveals.

The study, administered by News Co/Lab and the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, found that along with education level, negative opinions of the media was a factor in differentiating fake headlines and the ability to distinguish news from opinion, analysis, or advertising.

Participants in the study were given three headlines, two were real and one was fake.

The results of the survey showed a partisan divide in regards to views on how trustworthy news sources are.

When asked what the first word they thought of when hearing the word “news,” 74% of Republicans had a negative word such as “fake” or “biased” compared to 26% of Democrats who responded similarly

Sixty-eight percent of those with a college degree identified which headline was fake, whereas only 57% with less than a college degree were able to spot the fake headline.

The study surveyed 4,854 people in three cities: Macon, Ga., Fresno, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo., as well as 88 journalists and 51 news sources.

The battle against misinformation has been a heightened topic in recent years, with fake news permeating social media during the 2016 elections, leading to an investigation into Russian meddling and social media companies responding with plans to combat the problem.