News Media Falls to New Low in Pew Survey
by RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA NY Times September 15, 2009
Trust in news media has reached a new low, with record numbers of Americans saying reporting is inaccurate, biased and shaped by special interests, according to a survey set to be released Monday.
The survey of 1,506 people interviewed in July by the Pew Research Center showed that self-described Republicans continued to take the dimmest view of news organizations, but discontent among Democrats was catching up.
On crucial measures of credibility, faith in news media eroded from the 1980s to the ’90s, then held fairly steady for several years, according to Pew surveys that have asked some of the same questions for more than two decades. But in the two years since the last survey, those views became markedly more negative.
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In this year’s survey, 63 percent of respondents said news articles were often inaccurate and only 29 percent said the media generally “get the facts straight” — the worst marks Pew has recorded — compared with 53 percent and 39 percent in 2007.
Seventy-four percent said news organizations favored one side or another in reporting on political and social issues, and the same percentage said the media were often influenced by powerful interests. Those, too, are the worst marks recorded in Pew surveys.
Negative opinions grew since 2007 among both major parties, but significantly more so among Democrats. The percentage of Democrats calling the media inaccurate rose to 59, from 43; the percentage who said the media took sides rose to 67, from 54.
Views of some specific news organizations split sharply along partisan lines, with differences between Republicans and Democrats often approaching 30 percentage points. Asked about CNN, MSNBC or network television news, Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to rate them favorably, and Republicans were much more likely than Democrats to see them unfavorably. Fox News was seen much more positively by Republicans, and more negatively by Democrats.
Source: New York Times