Friday, August 10, 2007

Hug The Press

Newsrooms take it on the chin in a new study from the Pew Research Center. Or do they?

The AFP headline reads: "US public sees news media as biased, inaccurate, uncaring." In the story itself:
More than two-thirds of the Internet users said they felt that news organizations don't care about the people they report on; 59 percent said their reporting was inaccurate; and 64 percent they were politically biased.

More than half -- 53 percent -- of Internet users also faulted the news organizations for "failing to stand up for America".
All true. But here's what the executive summary says and the AFP doesn't tell you: people have an overwhelmingly favorable view of local news, especially local TV news -- 78% among all respondents, 68% among those who get their main source of news from the Internet. Obviously somebody out there likes us, even though we're not here to be liked.

From the Pew Study:
The internet news audience is particularly likely to criticize news organizations for their lack of empathy, their failure to "stand up for America," and political bias. Roughly two-thirds (68%) of those who get most of their news from the internet say that news organizations do not care about the people they report on, and 53% believe that news organizations are too critical of America. By comparison, smaller percentages of the general public fault the press for not caring about people they report on (53%), and being too critical of America (43%).
So it's roughly half and half. Paraphrasing the thoughts of one newsie: if you get as many complaints as compliments, you must be doing something right.
Far more than twice as many Republicans as Democrats say news organizations are too critical of America (63% vs. 23%), and there is virtually no measure of press values or performance on which there is not a substantial gap in the views of partisans.
Republicans are going to say you're too liberal. Democrats are going to say you're too conservative. The thing to take away: quit worrying about people yelling bias and just report the news. You have to remember when people cry bias, they're complaining that you're not biased in their political direction.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine provides an exhaustive analysis.

No comments: