Local media lead the way when it comes to believability, says the Pew Research Center.
A report from Pew, reported in Media Daily News, says 65 percent of those surveyed feel local TV news is more believable than other media. Local daily newspapers also fare well, although not quite as well as their local broadcast counterparts. That's a bit ironic, since local TV news so often takes its cue on stories from what they see in the local papers. (But that's another story, for another post.)
Pew reported that believability has been dropping across 13 major news organizations, now at 56 percent vs. 62 percent two years ago and 71 percent ten years ago. Cable news outlets have suffered big drops -- CNN now at 58 percent vs. 76 percent ten years ago; FOX News at 49 percent vs. 67 percent, and MSNBC at 50 percent vs. 73 percent a decade ago.
What's the reason for these drops? I think it stems from several factors. Politicians have been relentless in their attacks on the media. If we hear it enough, we start to believe the media get it wrong and have an agenda.
Some of it could be we blame the bearer of bad news... the "shoot the messenger" attitude. And we've certainly been getting lots of bad news these past few years -- the economy, lack of integrity from Wall Street to the Capitol, political nastiness. We're tired of hearing it.
And some of the cause could be from the news media themselves. Look at how many big mistakes have been made in recent breaking news stories lately. CNN and FOX News mistakenly reporting the Supreme Court decision on Obama's healthcare program. ABC News wrongly linking the Colorado movie theater shooter to the Tea Party. NBC editing the Treyvon Martin 911 call, which could lead to a different interpretation of the shooter's motive. CBS News reported on the death of Penn State's Joe Paterno hours before he actually died.
Where did these mistakes come from? In many cases, it was the rush to be first with breaking news. Reporters and producers didn't double-check sources. Mistakes made by reporters and non-reporters on Twitter have been picked up as fact by major news organizations, whose error was then re-reported by other major news outlets.
Not all news organizations, it seems, subscribe to AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll's statement that "I'd rather be behind and right than ahead and wrong." If more did, perhaps the media's believability ratings wouldn't be dropping quite so quickly.