Dissatisfaction with News Media

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The American public is not happy with journalists or the news that they cover, according to a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center.

Only 25 percent of people say that news organizations are factual within their stories, and 66 percent say that stories are "often inaccurate". This is quite the decline from 2007 when 39 percent said that news mostly got their facts straight, and 53 percent said that stories are inaccurate.

An overwhelming majority of the public also believe that the press is "often influenced by powerful people and organizations" and "tend to favor one side".

Of the 12 evaluation categories of news media, nine equal or surpass record highs in percent of displeased responders, indicating that the public is growing more and more dissatisfied with the media.

There is some good news, though. The public trusts news organizations (especially local news) more than state and federal government, business, and congress. (While I'm not sure that this is really GOOD news, it does make journalists feel a little better!)

Pew Research Center releases an annual report on the public views of the values of news media. They have been performing this survey since 1985.

With all of these negative views on news media, shouldn't we do something about it? One of the main goals of journalism is to provide factual information to the public, something that they are telling us we are not doing.

Joseph Pulitzer, establisher of the coveted Pulitzer Prize, warned of biased media in his journalistic credo:
Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations.

Click here for a complete report of Pew Research Center's findings.


SarinaRhinehart September 26, 2011 at 9:48 PM  

Journalists are given a much worse reputation then they deserve. They are hardworking people, whose job it is to find the truth.

I truly believe that most journalists would never print something they knew to be false. Journalists should always check their sources again and again.

Journalists actually provide a check on each other. For example, if KCCI-TV runs a story on the death of an Iowa soldier, then WHO-TV looks into the same topic to run their own story about it and will find if there were any errors to the first story.

As for news being biased, this idea is most visible in TV news.For example,everyone thinks that Fox is much more conservative than other stations. News should try to stay as unbiased as possible so as to be fair for their audience.

vanvolkinburg September 27, 2011 at 8:00 PM  

I would have to disagree with you Sarina. I have known many journalists who have intentionally published information they knew to be false; and, while their motives varied, I believe instances like this are why there is such a great deal of skepticism towards journalism as a whole.

Even still, it is sad, as a future journalist, to continually see the numbers of skeptics rising. Those statistics are slightly unnerving. It is a good thing that media is becoming so digitally advanced or we would be out of a job before even graduating.

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