Pew Poll Finds the Public Backs Equal Coverage of Issues; Most of the Press Disagree

At the front of Thursday’s Washington TimesStephen Dinan’s story on a recent poll showed that there was an incredibly wide range of public opinions on journalism goals. 

Less than half of journalists — 44% — say every side of an issue deserves “equal coverage,”According to the Pew Research Center’s survey of the industry.

However, the wider community is not as affected. The vast majority 76% — believe in equal coverage.

Pew asked respondents to pick between two statements: “Journalists should always strive to give every side equal coverage” or “Every side does not always deserve equal coverage.”

Last month’s survey included 11,889 journalists based in the United States. The survey found that 42% of respondents worked for newspapers and magazines, 29% in online media, 17% were in TV, 11% radio, and 1% podcasting.

Pew did a bit of demographic analysis and discovered that journalists who believe their audience is right are more likely to believe both sides deserve equal coverage (57% vs 30% for journalists with a biased audience).

According to pollsters, 76% of Americans believe journalists should give equal coverage. However, self-identified Republicans are more dedicated (87%) than Democrats (68%). Still, it’s a good number for Democrats.

Dinan asked me for comment, and I was quoted in the paper this way: “It just seems to me that the dominant message of journalism, in J-schools, journalism conferences, is the arrival of Donald Trump should have offered a death knell to the idea that there are two sides of things.”

You can sense the debate within the story itself, as David Stringer, a former president of the Oklahoma Press Association said “I think journalists are reacting to the current climate of ‘alternative facts’ and the condition of lies getting repeated and shared over social media to shape the narrative in a particular way,” he said. “How’d we get here? Because we’ve reached a point where biased (sometimes outright false) information is reported as fact and people inside the target bubble believe it.”

Journalists might be tempted to say that you can’t reconcile “facts” with “false info.” It is understandable. They often misunderstand their liberal beliefs on LGBT and climate. — with the “facts,” and consider the conservative opinion to be “false.” They hate “bothsidesism.” Yes, they despise people who say they are “saving democracy”, but shut down all debates.

Dinan finished with more thoughts from me:

“If the news media thinks they have a credibility problem, this is how you fix it,” he said. “You fix it by giving people more facts, less spin. Their political bodies warn them against doing that. They feel it’s their job to usher in the right side of history….

“The more involved you are in consuming media, the more cynical you get about the idea that anybody’s observing objectivity in their journalism,” he said. “I don’t want to say that the public is naive to expect objectivity. This is actually a sign of hope that readers desire more neutrality. They’re looking not to be spun.”

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