A poll released last week shows Americans’ faith in traditional mainstream media as an unbiased source for incisive government monitoring continues to decline, as Internet-based news outlets continue to gain the trust of readers fed up with what they believe is a liberal bias among traditional news sources.
The expansive Pew Research poll, released last Thursday, shows public perception of the mainstream news media “mired near all-time lows,” even as respondents continue to believe that it’s the job of news organizations to watch the government and prevent elected leaders and policy makers from aggrandizing unConstitutional power.
From the poll’s summary report:
Outside of its role as a watchdog, the press receives broadly negative ratings from the public on core performance measures. Two-thirds (67%) say that news reports are often inaccurate, and even greater percentages say that news organizations tend to favor one side (76%) and are often influenced by powerful people and organizations (75%). Ratings of news organizations have declined steadily since Pew Research first began tracking attitudes in 1985, and many current ratings stand near all-time lows reached in 2011.
When it comes to bias, which way do viewers think the mainstream media leans? Not surprisingly, more respondents believe the news veers to the left. Of those surveyed, 46 percent said the media reflects liberal ideology, while only 26 percent believe the news is biased toward a conservative point of view. Another 19 percent felt the media’s reporting is largely unbiased, and 9 percent said they didn’t know.
The move toward the Internet and away from print media as a viable news option represents a major shift in consumer habits over the past decade, when Pew conducted a similar study. In 2001, 45 percent of respondents said they primarily looked to newspapers as their source for news, with only 13 percent relying on the Internet.
Today, 50 percent say they go to the Internet first for news, with only 28 percent citing newspapers as their primary choice.
See more from the study, including a breakdown of how consumer behavior differs according to party lines, at the Pew website.