As part of 'a $1 million project to improve the credibility of newspapers and journalism,' the American Society of Newspaper Editors commissioned a poll of 3,000 Americans in April and May of 1998. The survey found that more than three-fourths of Americans (78%) believed that the press is biased, and an equal percentage believed that reporters would 'spike or spin' a story to suit powerful interests. The findings were detailed in a 1999 report, Examining Our Credibility: Perspectives of the Public and the Press.
'78 percent of U.S. adults agree with the assessment that there is bias in the news media,' the report found.
'78 percent believe that powerful people can get stories into the paper — or keep them out.'
'50 percent believe there are particular people or groups that get a 'special break' in news coverage, and 45 percent believe that others 'don't get a fair shake.''
'77 percent believe newspapers pay lots more attention to stories that support their own point of view.'
'Although a sizeable portion of the public (46 percent) thinks that their newspaper is more liberal than they, another significant segment (36 percent) see the newspaper as more conservative than themselves,' ASNE found.
The study found a divide between the public and the press. Among everyday Americans, '58 percent believe dissatisfaction with the media is justified — as opposed to 29 percent who say the press is 'an easy target for deeper problems in our society.'' A survey of newsrooms, however found 'only 17 percent of journalists (20 percent of managing editors and assistant managing editors) believe that public dissatisfaction with the press is justified.'