Mixed bag for the press in Pew poll


The opinion of the average citizen on the quality of journalism these days is somewhat of a mixed bag, according to a study just out from Andrew Kohut and The Pew Research Center For The People & The Press. Each of five media studied are seen in a decidedly favorable light. Local TV rate and daily newspapers each rate a 78%/22% favorable to unfavorable split, followed by cable news (75%/25%), network TV news (71%/29%), and national newspapers, lagging at 60%/40%. Pew notes that the harshest criticism comes from individuals who get most of their news from the internet.

But in general, when asked about specific criticisms, results have deteriorated significantly since 1985. Back then, 54% rated news organizations as moral, a number which has dwindled modestly to 46%; however, when asked if they are immoral, opinion has skyrocketed from 13% to 32%. Those that think the press protects democracy have shrunk from 54% to 44%, while those who believe it hurts democracy has grown from 23% to 36%. People who believe the press gets the facts straight have shrunk from 55% to 39%; while those who see inaccuracy have risen from 34% to 53%. There has been only slight shrinkage in those who believe the press strives to avoid bias, from 36% to 31%, compared to a 45%-to-55% increase in those who see political bias. A relatively low 22% now see journalists as unprofessional, but that number used to include only 11% of respondents.

SmartMedia observation: This sounds to us like the frequent dichotomy between the public's view of Congress and of their own representatives. It seems that approval levels for Congress are almost always appallingly low; however, incumbents usually leave of their own free will rather than being ousted by this overwhelmingly disapproving public. We hate Congress, but we love our rep. It must be those other legislators causing the problem. Similarly, we love our daily news show or newspaper, but have problems with all those other inferior practitioners of journalism out there messing it up for everybody else. The key is to make sure that your own constituents see your service as outstanding. As long as they come back to you every day, they can say whatever they want about the other guys.