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  • Writer's pictureMarc Johnson

More Bad News…for the Press

New Survey Shows Decline in Public Confidence

The Pew Center is out with a new survey that may help explain some of the demise of the so called “main stream” media.

As the chart illustrates, the percentage of Americans who believe the media generally gets the facts straight has declined from 55% in 1985 to 29% this year.

From the Pew report: “Similarly, only about a quarter (26%) now say that news organizations are careful that their reporting is not politically biased, compared with 60% who say news organizations are politically biased. And the percentages saying that news organizations are independent of powerful people and organizations (20%) or are willing to admit their mistakes (21%) now also match all-time lows.”

A piece at Forbes on-line comes to a different conclusion, saying Pew failed to define its terms properly by lumping the wild hodgepodge of “media” in with your local TV newscast and daily fish wrapper.

“In other words, if you consider Glenn Beck’s tirades journalism, or get your news from posts on, they were lumped in with your opinions about The New York Times.”

Fair enough – maybe. The facts are that traditional sources of news – local and national papers and network evening news programs, for example – are not nearly as relied upon as information sources as they were just a few years ago. Part of the reason, I suspect, is confidence and perhaps even more importantly relevance.

Here’s a fearless prediction: in a bid to survive, more and more newspapers will follow the direction of the cable channels and offer up a “news product” with a distinct point of view. The business model will be to further fragment the market in the interest of talking to the audience that wants its “news” to reaffirm its perspective rather than challenge any assumptions.

Look for the confidence numbers to continue to decline.

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