Thursday, August 16, 2012

Media Credibility Takes Another Big Hit

The major news media may be pumping out information around the clock. But to a great extent, the public isn’t buying it.

A new media credibility survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that the public’s trust in the media has suffered a major drop-off in the past two years. Overall, only 56% of the public has a positive view of the “believability” of 13 major news organizations. That marks a steep drop from 2010, when the number was 62%. And as recently as 2002 the positive number was 71%.

The two most believable news organizations are “local TV news” (65%) and CBS’s 60 Minutes (64%). At the bottom of the list are The New York Times, Fox News and USA Today, all with 49% positive.

Not surprisingly, given our political climate, the results were highly polarized. MSNBC gets a 69% positive rating from Democrats and 32% from Republicans; Fox News, 37% from D’s and 67% from R’s. In general, Republicans have much less faith in the believability of all national media. For every source tested – networks, cable channels, national newspapers, local TV and newspapers – Democrats were more positive than Republicans, except for Fox News.

The most consistent performer over the past decade is Local TV News: 68% of the total public had a positive view of it in 2002, and that number has dropped only 3 points, to 65% this year. Why is it avoiding the deep decline? I’ll bet it’s because local TV news doesn’t get very involved with politics. A smart move.

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