Public’s Trust Of Media Hits 20-Year Low

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The media industry is being shaken to it foundations by the recession and the movement of advertising dollars from old media to the internet. The public’s trust of the media is dropping rapidly, which will not add to the ability of the press to recover its viability.

Pew Research reports that American look at the media and biased and lacking independence.  According to its latest survey, “Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate.”

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press’ biennial media attitudes survey was conducted between July 22 and July 26 among 1,506 adults reached on landlines and cell phones.

Old-line major media suffered significantly. The view that publications like The New York Times (NYT) and Wall Street Journal (NWS) are partisan are at unusually high levels. Only 29% of those surveyed had a favorable view of the Times and 32% of the WSJ.

Television still dominates the market as the public’s major information source with 71% of people saying the get their national news from the medium. The internet has passed newspapers in the category, 42% to 33%. This is bound to increase the belief that the days of print media are numbered, although 41% of those surveyed said they got their local news from papers.

The 20-year trend of belief in the media as a reasonable source of news is stunningly poor. In 1985, 55% of the people participating in the Pew poll said news organizations get their facts straight. Today that figure is 29%.

Looking at the data, one cannot help but notice the sharp and ongoing increase in the internet as a major news source. Traditional media can fight that by moving content online, but they face internet-only news sources which are already established. That makes the task of old media remaining viable a hard row to hoe.

Douglas A. McIntyre