Are you a conservative in the Chattanooga region? The Times Free Press wants to hear from you.

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / The Times Free Press building is seen on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Dear reader:

The Times Free Press is participating in a project designed to help rebuild trust in the media, and it starts with understanding our readers and their perspectives.

We are one of 30 newsrooms across the United States working with the Trusting News project and their partners at the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas project to better understand the dramatic erosion of trust in media among conservatives.

If you are right-leaning or conservative and are willing to help us in this work, please click this link to take a survey and sign up to possibly be interviewed about your perceptions of journalism. The survey gathers basic information about news preferences, viewpoints and political leanings.

At the Times Free Press, feedback from people who consider themselves conservatives has increased in the past few years, especially as a contentious election and the COVID-19 health crisis unfolded. Much of the feedback is critical of national news stories published in the Times Free Press and our decisions to publish those stories (or not).

Research shows that people who lean right are much less likely to trust the work journalists produce. The gap in trust among conservatives is stunning. While 73% of Democrats trust the media, only 10% of Republicans do, Gallup's annual governance poll found.

In 2016, Americans' trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news accurately and fairly dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with only 32% saying they had a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. That was down 8 percentage points from the previous year.

Republicans' trust has not recovered since 2016, while Democrats' trust has risen, according to Gallup.

The partisan divide in how Americans view news sources is a complex issue we're trying to understand, and your participation in the survey can help us do that. Trusting News is a nonprofit organization with a goal of empowering journalists to take responsibility for actively demonstrating credibility and earning trust.

Researchers at the University of Texas will select people who take the survey to be interviewed. Then you'll hear from me or Allison Collins, who is the digital and engagement editor at the Times Free Press. If you're selected to be interviewed, you'll receive a $25 gift card.

The first step of this Trusting News program is listening. We hope to hear from you.


Alison Gerber