Americans reject ‘fake news’ on energy from all sources but federal agencies

January 3, 2018

Americans across the political spectrum believe that U.S. federal agencies are the most credible source for energy information—somewhat more so than the news media and significantly more so than the White House or Congress—based on the findings of a poll of 1,000 adults released on December 28 by integrated communications firm Makovsky.

The report, entitled Trust, Credibility and America’s Energy Future, offers a look into what U.S. consumers thought about energy issues at the end of a year that saw the Trump administration withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, the repeal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, and ongoing issues (including earthquakes) surrounding hydraulic fracking and the approval of the controversial Keystone pipeline.

On the credibility issue, respondents were given a variety of choices, and U.S. government agencies and TV news channels and/or their websites were seen as the most credible information sources (22% and 20%, respectively); while the White House came in at 13% and Congress at 8%.

Millennials gave the highest credibility scores to federal agencies and TV news channels (33% and 24%, respectively). In fact, Millennials appear to be more trusting of information sources in genera— giving notably higher credibility scores compared to other generations surveyed.

Despite social media ranking among the top information sources, it was considered the least credible of the sources listed (7%). High use combined with low credibility may be driven by the passive nature of social media—as opposed to consumers actively seeking it out.

“These new results illustrate that Americans want reliable sources of information about energy issues, and the uncertainty of the past year has led them to put the most faith in federal agency policy makers and the news media,” said Makovsky Executive Vice President of Energy, Manufacturing and Sustainability Andy Beck.

Americans also viewed energy company communications with skepticism and distrust. When asked to identify the most informative energy company communications method, the top response (36%) was “none of the above” followed by websites (29%), Facebook (15%) and advertisements (7%).

Research contact: abeck@makovsky.com

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