If the credibility of major U.S. news organizations keeps declining, at what point are they no longer “mainstream”? That’s one of the questions that emerges from the results of a new study.

The study, released last week by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, covered 13 major news organizations, including the New York Times, USA Today, the three cable news channels, NPR and broadcast TV news.

Republicans’ Views

The average positive believability rating for the 13, measured as 3 or 4 on a 4 point scale, is 56 percent of respondents, down from 62 percent in 2010. Ten years ago, that figure was 71 percent.

Pew said that every news outlet it measured has experienced a double-digit decline since 2002, except local TV news and daily newspapers. The survey, taken July 19 through 22, queried 1001 adults. A rating of 4 indicated that the respondent believed all or most of what the news organization reported, while 1 indicated the respondent believed “almost nothing” from that source.

The report noted that partisan differences have increased as Republicans’ views of news organizations’ credibility erodes. Only Fox News and local TV have positive believability ratings from two-thirds of those who identify as Republican. The situation is reversed with Democrats, who rate news organizations with a 3 or 4 -- except for Fox News.

Local TV news currently rates highest, with 65 percent of respondents giving that source a 3 or 4, and CBS’ 60 Minutes news magazine show is close behind at 64 percent.

NY Times, Fox, USA Today

ABC News is third at 59 percent, followed by the Wall Street Journal at 58 percent, CNN also at 58, CBS News at 57, NBC News at 55, and NPR at 52. The bottom three are the New York Times, Fox News and USA Today, each at 49 percent.

The Time’s believability rating has dropped nine points in two years, from 58 percent in 2010, comparable to USA Today, which had been 56 percent. The Journal has dropped only 4 points since 2010, but a whopping 19 points since 2002.

Local newspapers’ believability remains about the same as two years ago, when it was 59 percent, compared to today’s 57 percent. MSNBC has dropped from 60 percent in 2010 to 50 percent, and both CNN and Fox have fallen 7 points over that period.