Saturday, January 19, 2008

Our Believability Is Slipping

19.6% of Americans surveyed say they believe all or most of media news reporting. That’s down from 27.4% in2003. The perception is growing among Americans that the news media attempts to influence public opinion -- from79.3% strongly or somewhat agreeing in 2003 to 87.6% in 2007.

Frighteningly (to me and it sounds like to some others too - it may say as much about America right now as it does about the news media), Americans surveyed in the poll say that the most trusted national TV outlets, in descending order were Fox News (27.0%); CNN (14.6%); NBC News(10.90%); ABC News (7.0%); local news (6.9%); CBS News (6.8%); MSNBC (4.0%); PBS News (3.0%); and,CNBC (0.6%).

Large majorities:
-- See too much coverage of celebrities
-- Say media has more influence on children than parents
-- Say there's too much sex on TV
-- Support limits on advertising content surrounding children's shows

The new national poll was conducted by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute and finds large majorities of Americans, 80.7%, pay no or very little attention to celebrities when they make political or public policy statements. This is down slightly from 81.9% found in a 2003 Sacred Heart Poll.

"Once again, Americans are loudly confirming they just don't care who Oprah or Magic Johnson support for President," said Jerry C. Lindsley, director of the SHU Polling Institute. He added, "Americans may be enjoying the free entertainment from Hollywood celebrities, but it's not moving them to the polls."

Three-fifths of Americans surveyed (59.1%) would rather see celebrities leave public policy-making to the experts and the voters. This is down somewhat from 69.5% in a 2003 SHU Poll. Another 31.7% suggested celebrities should publicly voice their political views. This is up somewhat from 27.6% in a 2003 Sacred Heart Poll.
“Americans know bias and imbalance when they see it and they don’t like it. When most service organizations strive for consumer satisfaction ratings in the high eighties to low nineties, an overall positive rating of 40.7% is disma. Americans know that it’s just not that hard to present
both sides and keep personal bias at home.” -- Jerry C. Lindsley, director of the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute

Most Americans (88.1%) did agree there was too much coverage of celebrities. (could there be some bias in this study? I wonder why the ratings of that coverage are so high?)

"The dissatisfaction with media content expressed by the majority of the American public could be viewed as an opportunity for media professionals to address issues that affect the American public as voters and citizens, not just as consumers and fans," stated James Castonguay, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of SHU's Department of Media Studies & Digital Culture. "At the same time, the American public views the Internet as a tool that can both educate and entertain," he added.

National poll respondents did see the Internet as having a positive impact. Three-quarters of Americans surveyed, 75.0%, agreed that the Internet is a positive educational supplement today.

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