Polls: Americans want more of what journalists want to report…for the most part

Newseum visitors browse newspaper front pages displayed outside the museum in Washington, June 11, 2018. There's substantial agreement on what Americans want from the news media and what journalists want to report, according to a pair of studies that also reveal a troubling caveat: a nagging feeling among both the ideal isn't being met. | Associated Press photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta, St. George News

NEW YORK (AP) — There’s substantial agreement on what Americans want from the news media and what journalists want to report, according to a pair of studies that also reveal a troubling caveat: a nagging feeling among both the ideal isn’t being met.

Public suspicion about journalism is also fueled by some basic misunderstandings on how the process works, particularly in an era of rapid change, according to the twin surveys of the American public and journalists released Monday by the Media Insight Project. The effort is a collaboration between The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute.

Graphic shows results of AP-NORC/American Press Institute poll on news media practices | Image courtesy of Associated Press, St. George News | Click to enlarge

The close look at attitudes comes in the midst of President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on the news media and the continued downsizing of the economically beleaguered newspaper industry. It has left journalists beaten down: The surveys found about 3 in 4 journalists believe the public’s level of trust in the news media has decreased in the past year. Yet only 44 percent of American adults actually say their level of trust has decreased.

The public actually wants what most journalists say they want to give them – news stories that are factual and offer context and analysis, said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. But the public doesn’t feel like they’re seeing enough of that work, with 42 percent of Americans saying journalists stray too far into commentary, according to the new research.

That’s one reason that Anna Retana, a mother of five from Enumclaw, Washington, said that she’s cut back on her news consumption.

“Most people who watch the news or read a newspaper, they’re wanting to find out the truth,” Retana said. “They don’t want to have tons of propaganda to sift through, and that’s what we see a lot of.”

Journalists can’t take for granted that the public knows what it’s getting, Rosenstiel said. Much of journalism’s shared language and structure is rooted in newspapers, yet many Americans get their news through social media streams, where it isn’t always clear from where stories come, Rosenstiel said. Newspapers have “op-ed” sections, yet half of the public doesn’t know what the term means.

That may contribute to the finding that most American adults aged 18 to 29 think the news is fairly inaccurate, while most above 30 felt it was fairly accurate.

There’s broad agreement that journalists need to do a better job of explaining their work. Sixty-eight percent of the public said the media should offer more information about its sources — and 66 percent of the journalists agree. Nearly half of the public said journalists should explain how their story was reported and 42 percent of the journalists said the same thing.

You need to explain the mystery of how the meal was cooked. We ought to take a cue from the way people go to the grocery store,” Rosenstiel said. “Before they buy something, they need to learn what the ingredients are.”

The public and journalists answered similarly on what each thought the media should be doing, with one major exception. Only a little more than half of the people said the press should act as a watchdog to powerful people and institutions, while 93 percent of journalists view this as their role.

There’s some good news about journalism. When Americans are asked about their favorite news organization, a third of them say they trust it more than they did a year ago, while only about 1 in 10 say their level of trust has declined.

Lamar Walker, of Huntsville, Alabama, said he follows the news on his smartphone and smart TV and feels smarter for it. He thinks the news media is doing an “excellent” job.

“As long as they’re telling the truth, a lot of people are going to like the news,” Walker said.

The poll of 2,019 adults was conducted March 21 through April 17. It used a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all adults is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.

The poll of 1,127 journalists was conducted March 1 through April 12 using a sample selected from a database of media contacts maintained by Cision Media Research. The margin of sampling error for all journalists is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The surveys were conducted with funding from the American Press Institute.

Written by DAVID BAUDER, AP Media Writer

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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  • No Filter June 12, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Maybe if the stupid president would stop calling everything fake news, people could start to trust them more. Lets go back to a time when the evening news was real news and not opinion talk shows for a start. People come home from work turn on the news and all they get is right or left wing propaganda. It’s exhausting trying to filter out the BS. When I was a kid my grandfather had control of the TV between 6 and 7, the first half hour was local news and the second was world news/national news. No opinions just facts, they left that for Sunday morning talk shows. Sometimes simple is better.

  • Not_So_Much June 12, 2018 at 8:28 am

    I see this has been posted for about an hour when I read it. Waiting for the story of President Trump and the summit.

  • DRT June 12, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Looks to me like this article is pure propaganda from the news media! Look at who’s done the surveys.
    The news media has been in pockets of the various political parties for decades. This appears to me to be brain washing from both the right and the left.
    Any one who “trusts” the media is just not paying attention to the world today.
    Personally, I believe that local media such as St. George News is much more unbiased in their reporting. (This of course, does not include the opinion columnists such as Ed and Bryan, though they too have their appropriate place.)

  • comments June 12, 2018 at 10:58 am

    political parties, drug companies, banksters, military arms suppliers, and on and on–the media at the nat’l level is totally controlled by special interests. If these corrupt special interests don’t own media outright they control them thru advertising dollars. I have no idea how it’s to be fixed. “The press” was supposed to be a watchdog of corruption; nowadays they are a key player in the corruption game. At the nat’l level they are simply villains with agendas.

    Awhile back I pulled up a youtube clip of a report done by one of the major nightly news–abc or one of those. The report was criticizing a drug company for issues with their vaccines–some serious safety issues. I thought, my god they are actually criticizing a drug company–this is real news! … so it turns out this report was from like 2007. They would NEVER touch a story like that nowadays because they are totally beholden to drug company advertising, so we simply have ZERO watchdogs over the trillion dollar pharma industries, at least with the mainstream. I’m sure there’s still fringe “conspiracists” that report on stuff like that, and maybe magazines. But really, it’s quite pathetic. It’s the price of FREEDUMB I suppose.

  • John June 12, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Americans want truthful news not the trash propaganda that the MSM tries to pass off as news. This article from AP (All Progressive) for instance is leftist propaganda, trying to tell us what we want. Shove it AP!

  • Brian June 12, 2018 at 11:19 am

    These replies may represent the average “journalist”, individually, but it in NO WAY represents the reality of the media or journalism as an industry. Really, 99% want to represent the truth? Maybe as individuals, but not as outlets.

    Why are journalists feeling “beaten down”? Because they are forced to lie through their teeth for a living, every day, with a straight faced. They’re forced to say that Trump says all immigrants are “animals”, when in fact he was absolutely, 100% talking about MS-13 and they know it!

    Journalists aren’t the problem, the media outlets are. The ONLY way that will change is to STOP WATCHING THEM. All of them. Don’t get your news from comedians. Don’t give a minute of your time to MSNBC ~OR~ Fox News, or anyone like them. Our eyes and ears, collectively, give them their power. Time to unsubscribe en masse or the fault lies with us, not them.

  • Utahguns June 12, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Many Americans are watching the devolution of traditional news with relish because they agree with the prevailing narratives, whether based on true facts or imagined fiction.
    But others are growing skeptical of nearly every news item they see or read. Some have stopped consuming news altogether.

    That serves the goal of the interests that are pulling our strings. It’s in the PR playbook. If they can do nothing more than confuse an issue, they’ve accomplished their mission. They throw so much information into the mix that ordinary people disregard all of it, including the truth that would have damaged the interests.
    I vividly remember the Chet Huntley / David Brinkley newscasts. Also Walter Cronkite. These were the reporters that America trusted, some for over twenty years.
    But, they’re gone forever, along with the superior level of journalistic standards they adhered to.

    So, you can’t assume you’re being told the truth in MSM news journalism.

    To me its like hunting…
    You can’t assume your game will always be in the same areas 100% of the time.
    You can’t assume animals higher up on the food chain than you always come out at night or will be in your full frontal view.
    You can’t assume that your firearm will always go “bang” when you pull the trigger.

    Therefore, I can’t assume this AP report is entirely accurate.
    I can safely assume though that the hunting example I gave will surely raise some peoples blood pressure here.

  • No Filter June 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    I assume you think Fox News is the only source of honest news in America?

    • John June 12, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      cloggy has a fox fixation, that’s like penis envy! hahahahaha!

      • Striker4 June 13, 2018 at 6:08 am

        Aww looks like someone ruffled Johns pretty pink panties again

        • John June 13, 2018 at 8:03 pm

          strikeout, you out on bail again?

      • jaybird June 13, 2018 at 7:37 am

        John you are exactly that – a john.

  • vickbill June 12, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    Let’s remember what the liberal Harvard study revealed that the main stream reporting is 95% anti-Trump. People get tried of them telling us what to think. They don’t know how to just report the news. Maybe they need to look back to how Walter Cronkite reported news to learn how to do it but liberals think the average American is too dumb so they have to tell us what to believe.

  • jaybird June 13, 2018 at 7:48 am

    This state is so steeped in cult presence, most of the responses here serve as stark reminder to others to be a person who learns and the intellect to critically question. If you dont believe what you read, read more, use critical thinking and research to get the truth. Many here are so used to getting a one sided cover up from the church that spreads this type of propaganda to hide its sins and continue power over its pew sitter automotons of the Utah state, spewing forth only what they hear through their cult grapevive rather than really seek truth. Better to seek truth than live a lie. It wont last for long.

    • comments June 13, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      I find that reading less of everything makes life a lot simpler. Too much reading has already led me to become a “9/11 conspiracist”, so pretty much who cares?

    • John June 15, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      You should take your own advice jailbird, maybe you won’t get locked up so often! hahahahahahaha! 🙂

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