Tens of millions of Americans continue to read, watch or listen to the news. Many must consider this news no better than entertainment, as their distrust of the media has reached an all-time high during the multiyear period during which Gallup has tracked the issue.
New data from Gallup show:
Americans’ distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004.
The difference between those with positive and negative views of the media is 20%. Gallup attributes this to a large extent to the fact it is an election year. Maybe people in the United States think news reports are more politicized when the decision of who will run the country in the Congress and the White House are on the line. News organizations that do not take strong views about candidates do not attract audiences, perhaps because the public wants to see battles between personalities with vastly different opinions. They are like boxing matches at which the public has a ringside seat. The news becomes closer to a series of debates that an impartial reporting of facts as they unfold.
But Gallup’s analysis is inadequate. Political leanings do affect some coverage. Pundits get more air time and real reporters get less. What reporters report has become a commodity mostly. The Romney tape of a speech in which he said unpleasant things about lower class Americans spread to almost all major medium within minutes after it was originally reported. And the news then became blended with judgments, and in a short time, the story did not stand on its own. The Romney news was at first news in itself. No media outlet allowed that to continue. Much of the press claim that politicians and companies “spin” the news. It turns out the media outlets “spin” it almost as much. What good is real news when it can be married with strong viewpoints that become news on their own?
People in American do not trust the media because the news and information that the media report is no longer left alone to be just news and nothing more.
Methodology: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 6 to 9, 2012, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Douglas A. McIntyre