Accuracy of news stories doubtful, says Pew Research survey
14 September 2009
The public's assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys, and Americans' views of media bias and independence now match previous lows.
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press is an independent opinion research group that studies attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy issues.
The Center's purpose is to serve as a forum for ideas on the media and public policy through public opinion research.
Just 29 per cent of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63 per cent say that news stories are often inaccurate. In the initial survey in this series about the news media's performance in 1985, 55 per cent said news stories were accurate while 34 per cent said they were inaccurate. That percentage had fallen sharply by the late 1990s and has remained low over the last decade.
Similarly, only about a quarter (26 per cent) now say that news organidations are careful that their reporting is not politically biased, compared with 60 per cent who say news organisations are politically biased. And the percentages saying that news organizations are independent of powerful people and organizations (20 per cent) or are willing to admit their mistakes (21 per cent) now also match all-time lows.
Republicans continue to be highly critical of the news media in nearly all respects. However, much of the growth in negative attitudes toward the news media over the last two years is driven by increasingly unfavorable evaluations by Democrats. On several measures, Democratic criticism of the news media has grown by double-digits since 2007. Today, most Democrats say that the reports of news organizations are often inaccurate.