Public trust in press at two decade low

Posted on September 14, 2009

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pew media fairness

The Pew Research Center has some bad news for the press in matter of political bias and general competence. According to their survey, only 29% of Americans think the press gets their facts straight in news stories, and 63% say the news is generally inaccurate. Even more damning, only 26% say that news organizations try to keep their news reports politically neutral, and 60% believe the news organizations are politically biased (Heads up from Hot Air). The entire survey is worth reading as it gives breakdowns on Fox (which actually doesn’t fare too badly with Democrats), CNN, MSNBC, and print outlets like the New York Times based on party affiliation.

Those are terrible numbers for an industry that pats itself on the back for being the stenographers of history. Instead, we have reporters whose goal isn’t to get to the truth, but to “make a difference”; i.e. to enact an agenda. Using their status as theoretically objective referees to advance arguments and talking points sympathetic to one side or another is an abdication of that responsibility. Even more egregious is some news organization’s attempts to ignore arguments and news stories they find inconvenient to the political beliefs of their chief editors (see the burial of the Van Jones controversy for one recent example).

It’s no surprise that through the many years of poorly hid bias, most Americans see through the charade of “unbiased” journalism. Bias is part of being human and is in many ways unavoidable – if it creeps in, it’s best just to be honest about it and continue your best effort at balanced reporting. What we’ve seen instead is ivory tower journalism, where the reporters, anchors and editors see themselves as more enlightened than their readers or viewers and any bias is seen as just a reflection of a predisposed vision of reality.

It’s one reason the newspapers are going down the tubes. There are reporters who do a great job, and if they’re allowed to gain prominence, the press can regain its credibility. Until then, we’ll continue to see plummeting faith in the ability of the media to give us the straight story.

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Posted in: News, Politics