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

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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:

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 [email protected]

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  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.

       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

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