WASHINGTON — Despite growing doubts about the news media’s patriotism, most people still have a positive view of news outlets like their daily newspaper, local TV, network television news and cable news networks, a poll found.
While the public views much of the news media favorably, they are less inclined to consider those sources of news believable, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Seven in 10 people said they have a favorable view of their local newspaper, and almost as many say that about local TV news, cable news networks and network broadcast news. Major national newspapers are viewed less favorably than the other sources of news.
News organizations in general have seen a drop in the percentage of people who find them believable.
‘Enduring support’ noted
But a solid majority of those polled, six in 10, said they feel the news media’s criticism of leaders plays an important role in preventing those leaders from doing the wrong thing.
While people are critical of the press, “there is an enduring support for what the press does,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which co-sponsored the poll. “The message isn’t that people are rejecting traditional journalism, but they wish people in the news practiced traditional journalism better.”
The poll was taken after several high-profile cases of the news media making mistakes or mishandling news stories.
People were evenly divided on whether the news media “stands up for America” or is “too critical of America.” Republicans were more likely to view the media as critical of America.
Internet news comes of age
The source of news is changing for many — with the use of online news highest among younger adults. Television remained the dominant source of news for all people.
Newspapers were the primary source of news for at least half of people 50 and over.
More than a third of people from ages 18-29 said the Internet is their main source for news. Six in 10 Internet news consumers say online newspapers are at least one of the sources.
Rosenstiel said the survey suggests many people going to alternative sources for their news “are simply adding those to the mix, not using them instead of traditional journalism.”
The poll of 1,484 adults was taken June 8-12 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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