Exhibit 2-20: Confidence In Media Hits New Low

In September 2009, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press updated its series on the public's view of the press, a set of reports that began in 1985. The 2009 survey of 1,506 adults found low confidence in the media's accuracy, objectivity, and independence. The report also found a widening partisan divide in how Democrats and Republicans rate individual news organizations.


  • 'Only about a quarter (26%) now say that news organizations are careful that their reporting is not politically biased, compared with 60% who say news organizations are politically biased.'

  • The percent who perceive the media as liberal versus conservative remains very lopsided, though the difference has increased by 7 points — from 40 percent vs. 19 percent in 1985 to 50 percent vs. 22 percent now, a 28 point split.

  • 'Democrats hold considerably more positive views than Republicans of CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the news operations of the broadcast networks' with 'the starkest partisan division...seen in assessments of the New York Times.' Pew determined 'Republicans view the New York Times negatively by a margin of nearly two-to-one (31% to 16%), while Democrats view it positively by an almost five-to-one margin (39% to 8%).'

  • 'Nearly three-quarters (74%) say news organizations tend to favor one side in dealing with political and social issues, while just 18% say they deal fairly with all sides. The proportion saying the press favors one side has risen eight points since 2007 (from 66%). In 1985, a much smaller majority (53%) said the press favored one side.'

  • 'Nearly three-quarters (74%) now say news organizations are influenced by powerful people and organizations compared with 20% who say they are pretty independent. In 1985, by a far smaller margin, more said that news organizations were influenced by the powerful than said they were pretty independent (53% to 37%).'

  • And 'the public's assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades,' Pew documented. 'Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate.' That's a major decline in public trust since 1985, when '55% said news stories were accurate while 34% said they were inaccurate.'

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Next: Exhibit 2-21: Trust and Satisfaction with the National Media (2009)

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