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Pew Survey Finds few positive responses for the media from the public

by | Aug 13, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

NewsSourcesIn a survey in which the public took the media to the woodshed for many shortcomings and inadequacies, the Pew Research Center headlined its findings, “Amid Criticism, Support for Media’s ‘Watchdog’ Role Stands Out.”

And it’s true, the watchdog role (aka “holding political leaders accountable”) did bring some good numbers: 68% agreed. As Pew (and others) speculated, that silver lining in a VERY dark cloud may reflect “the recent investigative reporting surrounding the National Security Agency’s communications monitoring programs and the Department of Justice’s investigation of journalists — revelations which were protested by public officials.”

But aside from that and kudos for the media’s “professionalism” (60%), the survey showed the public’s affection to be at or near all-time lows. Consider these devastating numbers:

Only 30% think the media are careful not to be politically biased compared to 58% who believe the media are politically biased. More specifically, 46% (65% of the Republicans, 47% of Independent, 36% of Democrats) thought that most media organizations could best be described as “liberal” versus 26% who said the media was largely “conservative.”

It gets worse.

· 65% believes the media focuses on unimportant stories.

· 67% believes their stories are often inaccurate

· 71% believes they try to cover up their mistakes and

· 76% believes they tend to favor one side.

How about the media’s importance? According to The Pew Research Center’s biennial media attitudes survey

“While most say journalists play a more important role in helping people navigate the news, their contributions to society more generally are seen as far less significant – especially when compared with other professions. Another recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that just 28% say journalists contribute ‘a lot’ to society’s well-being, down from 38% in 2009. The public gives far better ratings to the contributions of the military (78%), teachers (72%) and doctors (66%).”

The move to the Internet for news (and away from newspapers and radio) is seemingly inexorable, although television remains the top source. Of the 1,480 adults surveyed

“50% of the public now cites the internet as a main source for national and international news, up from 43% in 2011. Television (69%) remains the public’s top source for news. Far fewer cite newspapers (28%) or radio (23%) as their main source. (Respondents were allowed to name up to two sources.)”

For comparison purposes, in 2001, 13 percent cited the Internet.

Not surprisingly those 18-29 are much more likely to cite the Internet as those over 50, who choose television. Those in the middle tend to cite the Internet and television as equal sources for news.

Equally unsurprising, those who cite the Internet as a main source for news believe that news organizations are politically motivated over those who don’t use the Internet by an almost 3-2 margin–65% to 46%.

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Categories: Polling