Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Americans' Confidence In TV News Drops To New Low

Confidence in television news has hit a new low, a new Gallup poll reported Tuesday.

The polling firm does an annual survey of the confidence that Americans have in their biggest institutions. Just 21% of adults said they had a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in TV news. That's down a whopping 25% from 1993, when Gallup began the poll:

The survey showed an interesting political split. Overall, Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to trust TV news (34 percent versus 17 percent.) But self-identified liberals were the most disenchanted of all groups, with just 19 percent expressing confidence in the medium.

Gallup said that "Americans' negativity likely reflects the continuation of a broader trend that appeared to enjoy only a brief respite last year. Americans have grown more negative about the media in recent years, as they have about many other U.S. institutions and the direction of the country in general."

As if to illustrate that point, American newspapers also fared very poorly in the survey, with only 25 percent of respondents expressing confidence. As the news media has become increasingly controlled by a few global conglomerates who format news as entertainment programing, often little more than repackaged political "think tank" propaganda, Americans have lost confidence in traditional "old media" news outlets.

In 1910, nearly 60% of cities had competing daily papers, but today that completion of viewpoints has all but disappeared. Unfortunately, media consolidation over the past twenty years has taken its toll on the "widest possible dissemination of information as an essential check on government and business."

Through successive acquisitions and mergers a few massive multinational media conglomerates controlled by conservative owners control more and more of our vital information sources – including television networks, cable channels, newspaper publishing, radio, and the Internet.

A robust, free press has been viewed by many as an essential check on government and business since the early days of the Republic. “The only security of all is in a free press,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1823. Nearly 60 years ago, the Supreme Court declared that "the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is essential to the condition of a free society."

Today, people, particularly younger Americans, have gone to Internet to find the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources.

A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey in 2010 found that the internet surpassed television as the main source of national and international news for people younger than 30. (chart right)

Since 2007, the number of 18 to 29 year old adults citing the internet as their main source has nearly doubled, from 34% to 65%.

Over this period, the number of young people citing television as their main news source has dropped from 68% to 52%.

The internet is slowly closing in on television as Americans’ main source of national and international news.

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