Thursday, September 03, 2020

Study of opinions on news media shows importance of local journalists, news outlets being connected to communities

"While large swaths of the public often express negative views toward journalists and news organizations, a major Pew Research Center analysis – culminating a yearlong study on Americans’ views of the news media – also finds areas where U.S. adults feel more affinity toward the media and express open-mindedness about the possibility that their trust in the industry could improve," Jeffrey Gottfried, Mason Walker and Amy Mitchell report for Pew, a unit of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Among the study's major findings:
  • 63 percent of U.S. adults say it's better if the public is skeptical of the news media.
  • 75% says it's possible to improve the level of confidence Americans have in the news media.
  • More than half of respondents (55%) think it's somewhat or very important to feel a personal connection with the news organization from which they get their news, but most don't feel that connection.
  • 57% think their news sources don't particularly value them; 59% think news organizations don't understand people like them, and 63% say they're not particularly loyal to the source where they get their news.
  • Americans' personal connections with the news tie strongly to their views of the media overall, echoing earlier Pew research at the local level. Americans who feel connected to their news outlets express far more positive views towards the news media.
  • 61% of respondents expect the news they get to be accurate.
  • 69% think news organizations generally try to cover up mistakes when they do happen.
  • Many said that careless reporting (55%) or a desire to mislead the public (44%) are major factors behind mistakes in news stories. 53% attributed mistakes to the rapid pace of breaking news.
  • Republicans who strongly approve of Trump are much more likely to say news errors happen because of a desire to mislead the public.
  • Republicans overall evaluated the news media more negatively than Democrats.
  • Many respondents believe news organizations don't do enough to explain to audiences where they get their money (72%), where there are conflicts of interest (60%), how they choose and find sources (57%), whether a story is opinion or factual (55%), how they produce their stories (51%), or when a correction has been made (48%).
Data for the year-long project came mainly from a Pew Research Center survey of 10,300 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 18-March 2, plus earlier Pew data. A question about the influence of corporate and financial interests came from a survey of 13,200 U.S. adults Aug. 3-16. Results are weighted to match the population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education and other categories. 

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