‘Sobering’ Report Shows Hardening Attitudes Against Media

August 4, 2020by David Bauder, AP Media Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The distrust many Americans feel toward the news media, caught up like much of the nation’s problems in the partisan divide, only seems to be getting worse.

That was the conclusion of a “sobering” study of attitudes toward the press conducted by Knight Foundation and Gallup and released Tuesday.

Nearly half of all Americans describe the news media as “very biased,” the survey found.

“That’s a bad thing for democracy,” said John Sands, director of learning and impact at the Knight Foundation. “Our concern is that when half of Americans have some sort of doubt about the veracity of the news they consume, it’s going to be impossible for our democracy to function.”

The study was conducted before the coronavirus lockdown and nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.

Eight percent of respondents — the preponderance of them politically conservative — think that news media that they distrust are trying to ruin the country.

The study found that 71% of Republicans have a “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable opinion of the news media, while 22% of Democrats feel the same way. Switch it around, and 54% of Democrats have a very favorable view of the media, and only 13% of Republicans feel the same way.

That divide has been documented before but only seems to be deepening, particularly among conservatives, Sands said.

“We’re starting to see more retrenchment among those who have already expressed deep concerns,” he said. “Moving the dial on these attitudes becomes more and more difficult for media organizations.”

The study doesn’t attempt to assign blame for these attitudes. President Donald Trump has constantly labeled journalism he doesn’t like “fake news.” Cable news networks Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN feature evening opinion shows that are an increasingly popular pasttime for viewers.

Who is to blame for the nation’s political divide? Well, 48% of those questioned says the media bears a great deal of the responsibility.

The study found 73% of Americans feel that too much bias in news reports is a major problem, up from 65% two years ago.

Those surveyed also didn’t believe much in honest mistakes. When there were inaccuracies in articles, 54% of Americans said they believed reporters misrepresented facts, while 28% said reporters were making things up in their entirety.

The picture isn’t much prettier when you take a step back. Knight and Gallup said 41% of Americans have a great deal of confidence in the ability of the media to report the news fairly, down from 55% in a similar survey in 1999.

Eight in 10 Americans are calling for more diversity in news. Democrats and Black people are more likely to be referring to racial and ethnic diversity; while Republicans and white people prioritize diversity in political views.

In a clear message to Facebook and Twitter, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said social media companies have to work harder to remove hateful language and inaccuracies from their platforms.

Knight and Gallup conducted a random sample of 20,046 American adults between Nov. 8, 2019 and Feb. 16, 2020, and claimed a margin of error of plus or minus 1%.

In The News

Health

Voting

Opinion Polls

AP-NORC Poll: Biden Approval Buoyed by His Pandemic Response
Opinion Polls
AP-NORC Poll: Biden Approval Buoyed by His Pandemic Response

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is plunging into the next phase of his administration with the steady approval of a majority of Americans, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey shows Biden is buoyed in particular... Read More

TWN Readers: Pace of Vaccinations Tops Biden's Accomplishments in First 100 Days
Opinion Polls
TWN Readers: Pace of Vaccinations Tops Biden's Accomplishments in First 100 Days
April 26, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden entered the White House promising that by the time his first 100 days in office had elapsed, at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccines  would be administered. As of Sunday, four days shy of Biden’s 100-day landmark, 290,692,005 doses of the vaccine... Read More

Poll Finds Strong Support for Colleges, Universities, Mandating COVID Vaccines
Opinion Polls
Poll Finds Strong Support for Colleges, Universities, Mandating COVID Vaccines
April 23, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - Nearly 70% of Americans agree with universities and colleges mandating all staff and students be vaccinated for COVID-19 before they resume face-to-face operations, a new, Back-to-Normal Barometer survey has found. The survey asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement: I support... Read More

Study Finds People Want More Than Watchdogs for Journalists
Opinion Polls
Study Finds People Want More Than Watchdogs for Journalists

NEW YORK (AP) — A study of the public's attitude toward the press reveals that distrust goes deeper than partisanship and down to how journalists define their very mission. In short: Americans want more than a watchdog. The study, released Wednesday by the Media Insight Project,... Read More

Pollsters Look to Fix Flaws After 2020 Surprises
In The News
Pollsters Look to Fix Flaws After 2020 Surprises
March 25, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — The polling industry required an audit after the 2020 election. Poll results overstated Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump in the national vote for president by so much that analysts suggested: “the polling industry is a wreck, and should be blown up." Yet in... Read More

‘K-Shaped’ COVID-19 Recovery Deepens Economic Disparity
Opinion Polls
‘K-Shaped’ COVID-19 Recovery Deepens Economic Disparity
March 16, 2021
by Reece Nations

While the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic has had drastic ramifications for the United States’ economy, its toll has been unevenly harsh for the country’s poorest citizens.  Following a recession, a “K-shaped recovery” occurs when different segments of the economy recuperate at different rates, times,... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top