The Impact of Fake News on Public Trust in Traditional Media Outlets


  • Peter Idiongo Strathmore University



Fake News, Public Trust, Traditional Media Outlets, Media Literacy, Transparency, Fact-Checking, Content Moderation


Purpose: The study sought to investigate the impact of fake news on public trust in traditional media outlets.

Methodology: The study adopted a desktop research methodology. Desk research refers to secondary data or that which can be collected without fieldwork. Desk research is basically involved in collecting data from existing resources hence it is often considered a low cost technique as compared to field research, as the main cost is involved in executive's time, telephone charges and directories. Thus, the study relied on already published studies, reports and statistics. This secondary data was easily accessed through the online journals and library.

Findings: The findings reveal that there exists a contextual and methodological gap relating to fake news on public trust in traditional media outlets. Preliminary empirical review revealed that the widespread dissemination of fake news through social media significantly eroded public trust in traditional media outlets. It found that demographic factors such as age, education, and political affiliation influenced susceptibility to fake news, with younger and less media-literate individuals being more affected. The impact varied geographically, with higher trust erosion in politically polarized and less regulated regions. The study highlighted the need for enhanced media literacy, stricter content moderation, and greater transparency in traditional media to restore public trust. It emphasized a multifaceted approach to mitigate the negative effects of fake news globally.

Unique Contribution to Theory, Practice and Policy: The Agenda-Setting Theory, Uses and Gratification Theory and Cultivation Theory may be used to anchor future studies on the impact of fake news on public trust in traditional media outlets. The study recommended comprehensive strategies to address the impact of fake news on public trust in traditional media. Theoretically, it called for further research into the psychological and sociological mechanisms behind susceptibility to fake news. Practically, it emphasized the importance of media literacy programs and transparent reporting practices. For policymakers, it advocated for robust regulatory frameworks and international cooperation to combat misinformation. The study also suggested that traditional media invest in technological solutions like AI for detecting fake news and engage the public more proactively to rebuild trust.


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How to Cite

Idiongo, P. . (2024). The Impact of Fake News on Public Trust in Traditional Media Outlets. Journal of Communication, 5(3), 45–58.