Today, everything and everyone has become a news source and consumers are yearning for a return to factual, reliable news they can trust. We are constantly on information overload. It can be a daunting task to decipher what is real and what is considered misinformation.

Who should we turn to as our trusted news sources? Who do we rely on for credible information? Who is worthy of being allowed into our information circle of trust?

While the trust factor is front in center, according to Gallup’s “American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy” survey, Americans still value and hold dear the media’s traditional roles in society, such as providing accurate news and holding powerful interests accountable for their actions.


Consumer confidence in traditional institutions such as government and media are being replaced with a newfound trust in businesses and CEOs as reliable sources of information. In fact, for the first time, less than 50% of Americans trust traditional media and social media only carries about 27% of consumer trust according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Misinformation is a major concern as people are having a hard time figuring out who and what to believe. Consumers are experiencing difficulties in getting the facts straight as they struggle to verify accuracy and sources, and often share information without vetting it as factual first.


Nearly one-third of Americans say Facebook is a regular source of news for them and social media platforms are constantly waging a battle with misinformation.

“Despite the widespread problem of inaccurate information on social media, people are still turning to social platforms for their news,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner of The Ehrhardt Group. “This may be due to convenience, habit or a willingness to absorb information knowing that it may not be completely reliable.”

According to a Pew Research Center report, the top social sites for news are:

  • 36% Facebook
  • 23% YouTube
  • 15% Twitter
  • 11% Instagram
  • 6% Reddit
  • 4% Snapchat
  • 4% LinkedIn
  • 3% TikTok

It should be noted that some of the lower percentage usage is due to a lower number of consumers using these platforms overall. For example, 42% of Reddit users get their news regularly on the platform, but overall, it has a very small user base as just 15% of U.S. adults surveyed report using Reddit at all.

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In addition to tackling misinformation, consumers are struggling with the shear amount of information available across all outlets and it is causing many to feel overwhelmed and overloaded. In an effort to stay well-informed, 39% of Americans say they stick to their one or two trusted sources, according to Gallup. Further, 30% say they consult a variety of sources to find a consensus, 18% avoid news altogether and 9% rely on other people to help them decide what information they need to know. Age plays a role, too, as those 65+ are more likely to pick just one or two sources, while those 18-29 are more likely to look to multiple sources for information.

We’ve previously explored how local news is long considered to be a trusted source for information. In the Gulf South, more than 75% of us say that our local news media does “very well” or “fairly well” in keeping us informed on the most important local stories of the day.

Local news is a major player in connecting residents to their communities.

33% of Americans say they follow news about their local community very closely and 72% say the news media is “critical” or “very important” in making them feel connected to their community. Those who get most of their news from print publications feel the most confident in their knowledge of community news, followed by those who get most of their news from television. Consumers who get most of their news online feel the least confident that they are knowledgeable about issues in their local communities, according to Gallup.

Particularly in the Gulf South, consumers report that the local media does a good job of providing news that can be used daily, reporting the news accurately and offering transparency in their reporting.

These are traits we want to see in the sources we allow into our information circle of trust.


Are your apps aging you? According to App Annie Intelligence, there is a generational theme to the apps we are using to get information. Does your app usage align with your age?

COMING SOON: 2021 Gulf South Index Report with the latest trends, opinions and insights into the people of the Gulf South.

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The Gulf South Index is a cooperative project between The Ehrhardt Group, a public relations, content, issues and crisis firm, and Causeway Solutions, a nationally recognized research and data analysis company, that are both based in the Gulf South.

The Index delves into hundreds of thousands of data points to paint a better picture of how the millions of people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle are going about their lives. We want to find out more about how we make decisions, from what we are buying and how we are getting our news to where we plan to travel.

We cannot comment on the methodology of the surveys and research we did not conduct, which is why we do our best to link to the source articles or studies that we share here.

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