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WHY WE STILL DO NOT TRUST THE MEDIA

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 19, 2012

– And why we depend on others to filter our news.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

Regardless of your political inclination, there now exists a perception the main street media is not to be trusted as a source of valid news, that its integrity is kaput. Instead, news outlets are viewed more as a tool for political activism. In September 2011, the Gallup organization reported, “The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.”

In Gallup’s report, “Majority in U.S. Continues to Distrust the Media, Perceive Bias,” they found 55% of Americans have little or no trust in the media, while 44% of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of trust. These numbers were essentially unchanged from the previous year. The report added, “The majority of Americans (60%) also continue to perceive bias, with 47% saying the media are too liberal and 13% saying they are too conservative…”

I began to wonder how this 55/44 split compared to the country’s political and idealogical inclinations and found the following:

Gallup

       Political Party(1)        Idealogy(2)        Perceives bias
55% No Trust        36.0% Republican        40.0% Conservative        47% Too liberal
44% Trusts the Media        32.4% Democrat        21.0% Liberal        13% Too conservative

1. Rasmussan (Feb 2012)

2. Gallup (Jan 12, 2012)

This statistical comparison implies conservative Republicans are less likely to trust the press than liberal Democrats, but regardless of your political persuasion, I believe we have all become rather skeptical.

Back in the 1960’s we had less news venues, but more trust. Today, it is just the opposite; we have
24/7 news sources at our fingertips, yet we are skeptical of what we read and hear. Because of the large volume of news and a general lack of time to consume it, people tend to use filters to help wade through it. This is why we have seen the emergence of specialized news on television and the Internet whereby whole networks and sites are specifically targeted at a single theme such as entertainment, sports, military, local news, foreign affairs, etc. Whereas hour long television variety shows were at one time quite popular, they were all eventually replaced by smaller half hour shows specializing in a particular form of entertainment. A similar phenomenon is now happening with network news and newspapers losing ground to targeted news sources. To save time, people are going directly to the news that interests them and they can trust. Without such filtering, there is an inclination to abandon the news altogether.

Naturally, people will gravitate to those news sources that share their interests and they can trust, in a sort of a “birds of a feather” manner. It’s no secret that Democrats tend to tune in to MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and HLN, while Republicans tend to watch Fox News. Currently, Fox News dominates the cable news stations in the ratings which means they are perceived as a more credible source of news and information, at least to conservatives. In contrast, liberals are not showing the same devotion to the other networks that conservatives show to Fox which suggests they are either not finding what they want on those channels or have simply abandoned following the news.

The only form of political activism the main street media should be practicing is just keeping the public properly and accurately informed, without any spin or hype. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and a naive assumption from the past. As evidenced by the Gallup Poll, people perceive news outlets as organs of political parties as opposed to independent organizations with unbiased integrity. News luminaries such as Edward R. Murrow, David Brinkley, Chet Huntley, Howard K. Smith, et al, who worked diligently to build credibility in their craft would be spinning in their graves if they knew the state of news reporting in this country today.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


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WHY WE NEED POLICY MANUALS – A policy is written to protect a company from those who break the rules, not from those who follow them.

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2 Responses to “WHY WE STILL DO NOT TRUST THE MEDIA”

  1. Jenn said

    I have given up “watching” the news, and for the most part “listening” to the news, and I stick solely to reading the news. Here is why. I feel that the media (conservative stations and liberal stations alike) take to telling the public what to think, as opposed to presenting the facts and allowing us to draw our own conclusions. I see this on every media outlet I watch, with the exception of possibly CSpan (they don’t usually give commentary). The issue I had was the ability to separate their “spin” on the news from fact in a short time they presented it, leading me to feel misinformed when I later would research what it was I had heard. So from now on I stick to reading the news. It alleviates such things as tone and emphasis on certain parts of a story–and I can quickly decipher fact from spin and added commentary. I can also cross reference those facts quickly via the internet and determine what is taken a few steps beyond the truth. And from that–I can form my own opinions, draw my own conclusions based on the facts and disregard the rest of the garbage they try to put out there. It is funny to read the news–and do my own research, then later overhear a news station spin it. I shake my head almost every time!

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    Tim, this is sad but true. The media has earned its reputation for slanted reporting and tabloid style stories. They seem to be unconcerned with truth and facts, trying for sensationalism and selling papers or boosting ratings. I recently read that Obama believes that those who feel negatively about his presidency have been influenced by Fox News’ conservative reporting. He seems to believe he’s doing a stellar job, but blames the reporters for presenting him in a bad light. With the exception of Fox, the media eats out of his hand and prints what he wants. Delusional president and tabloid media – what has happened to our great country?”

    A J.P. of Toronto, Ontario wrote…

    “It’s a problem for sure. I am just old enough to remember the dead-pan, no emphasis reporting of the old BBC: ‘Mrs. Murphy has lost her prize cat on Hammersmith road. Mr. Mao Tse-Sung declared communist victory in Peking this morning, local time. Mr. Attlee’s government announced it will proceed with nationalization of the major British coal mines.’ All in an even tone of voice with a studied non-inflection and, of course, the most cultivated of ‘Oxcam’ English. The idea that the reporter or ‘news reader’ should himself become ‘part of the show,’ or that the news should itself be dressed up, packaged and sold as a form of actual ‘entertainment’ would have been anathema in those days and with that organization. Even today, if one watches the modern BBC, say their World News show, persons being interviewed are actually given a reasonable amount of time to answer a question in several sentences, or more, and are rarely interupted in mid-thought or mid-sentence by the rather polite host. Stil, even conservative British reporting culture is being dragged in the American direction.

    Much of the problem is actually rooted in the private profit nature of news organizations. Everything depends on revenue to the company, and that depends on the size of the audience the organization can sell to sponsors at any given time, and that is measured by audience ratings. Thus, in a competitive news reporting environment, the ratings are everything. In turn, what creates a mass audience is largely defined by the interest and attention span of that audience. This is why the personality of the reporter or of the “host” has become more important than the story supposedly being reported. This is why complex issues are reduced to the “lowest common denominator” of time and essence. If the ‘reporter’ cannot impress his or her devoted audience with his or her brilliant insights and no-nonsense, ‘cut to the essence’ aggresiveness, and do so in one minute, perhaps less, then we never do get to see or hear any depth concerning the national economy, the roots of social problems, or the subtle differences in emphasis as between two candidates for leadership of the same political party.”

    A B.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “I find it extremely interesting, and at the same time somewhat disturbing, that my liberal democrat friends think a given news program is ‘too conservative’ while my conservative friends view the same show as too liberal. And, of course, the media personalities who are obviously linked with one side or the other are vilified by the opposition to their views. Civility, honesty, and integrity are watchwords of the past, unfortunately. Today, it’s how you slant the information to make the point you want to make. No such thing as mutual respect for the other side’s positions because both sides are preoccupied with taking potshots at each other.

    Old military maxim: if the enemy (opposition) is ‘in range’ – so are you.”

    A D.T. of Miami, Florida wrote…

    “Because they have genially earned our distrust. They are for sale to the biggest advertiser.”

    An O.B. of Macon, Georgia wrote…

    “At one time in this country we had more folks that cared about each other too, Today we are in essence too affluent. We no longer need to bond together for entertainment. We use to know every neighbor for blocks, today we are fortunate if we know even those next door. As bad as I would hate to live through it, we need tougher times. Folks need to re-find the true values of human life. Today we place more stock in celebrity figures than the soldiers who fight to keep our freedoms and the battle away from our front doors. We watch the court battles on TV with our eyes glued to the set, while we turn blind sided to the acts of politicians (unless of course they commit a crime or have extra-maritial affairs). The name of the game is ‘How are you going to entertain me?’

    Sadly it eventually gets to the point the media is controlled by a few power hungry folks who would like nothing better than to see the US crumble. Trust the media…not I.”

    Like

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