Politics Magazine

Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media

Posted on the 14 August 2013 by Jobsanger
Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media
Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media
Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media
Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media The Pew Research Center periodically surveys Americans about their media preferences and attitudes. Their last survey was done between July 17th and 21st of 1,480 nationwide adults. It had a margin of error of 3 points.
This latest survey showed the public has some very positive views of the news media and journalists. They believe the news media is more important than ever in these modern times (54%), believe journalists are highly professional (60%), believe that the news media keeps out leaders from doing the wrong thing (68%), and a plurality believe that the news media protects our democracy (48%).
That last figure is a bit disappointing, even though significantly more think the news media protects our democracy than believes it hurts it (a 13 point difference). Personally, I think if we didn't have an independent and effective news media, our democracy would quickly disappear. But maybe those who think our news media don't protect democracy aren't talking about it's necessity, but about it's current inadequacies.
Because, in addition to the positive views of the media listed above, the public also has some very negative views of the news media. Consider the following charts:
Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media
Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media
Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media
Public's Love/Hate Relationship With Media While the public thinks the news media is more important than ever, they also think the media concentrates too much of their time on unimportant stories (65%). And while they think journalists are highly professional, they also think they are not accurate in their reporting (67%). While they think the news media keeps leaders from doing the wrong thing, they also think most reporting is politically biased. And while a plurality thinks the news media protects our democracy, a much larger majority believes that media is influenced by powerful people and organizations (75%).
After thinking about this survey for a while, I think the public is right in all of those views. The news media is important and most journalists try to maintain a professional standard -- and that media does tend to keep our leaders honest and protect our democracy. But there's also some serious problems with our news media today -- especially the mainstream media.
The media puts on too much "fluff" instead of hard news, and they report stories before they have the correct facts. They do this because their owners have turned those news organizations into profit-making ventures. They must get the most viewers so they can sell advertising and turn a profit. This is kind of sad, because decades ago the companies owning the media (especially one of the most popular media -- television) didn't require their news departments to turn a profit. That was left to their entertainment division.
But a couple of things have changed. First, we have 24 hour news organizations (like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC) -- and a channel that does only news must use that news to sell advertising. This leads to "fluff" stories and reporting before the real facts are known about a big story.
The other thing is the ownership of mainstream media by just a few giant corporations. Only about five or six corporations own nearly all of the mainstream media news outlets. And those corporations aren't interested in fairness in reporting. They are interested in getting their own message out, so they can protect and maximize their own profits. They exert a large influence on what news gets reported, and prefer to feature those who agree with their own political biases.
It is unlikely that this ownership by a few corporations will be reversed (although it should be). That makes the internet more valuable than ever, since both sides of every issue can still be found there. But those same corporations would like to control the internet also, and they are trying hard to do that. We must remain vigilant to protect the freedom of the internet. It may be our last opportunity for a free press.

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