Wednesday, September 14, 2016

America "Mistrusts" the Media - and that's dangerous

Liberal media. Mainstream media. Media bias. Drive-by media.

As the son of a newspaper editor and feature writer, I am so bothered by the negative perception that Americans have of "the media." For the most part this is a predominantly right-leaning bias fueled by media personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. Strangely, these media icons have used television, radio, the internet, and print news to criticize "the media" and turn large numbers of Americans against the vast array of news sources available to them. Over the years, research shows that Americans get their "news" and information from a smaller and more narrow base. And, that's not good. The most recent and troubling example comes from a report in the Washington Times of a Gallup poll finding that American "trust" of the media is at historic lows.

A major pollster has some stark news: “Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32 percent saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year,” writes Art Swift, an analyst for the Gallup poll, which first asked the nation to weigh in on the press in 1972.

What has happned to us? Journalism is the life's blood of democracy, and since the days of Jefferson we have known that an educated and informed electorate is the foundation of our republic. Yet, fewer people are reading newspapers, and those who do seek to stay informed are getting their information from a widening range of informal news sources. Now, as a blogger and tweeter, I certainly don't oppose those forums. But I am not a member of the media. And I am not a trusted and credible source for news. I'm not a journalist. However, I do read and watch numerous news gathering organizations. Sadly, I realize that people don't actually "mistrust" the media. They just mistrust any news source that disagrees with or challenges their biases.

And that's not good.

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