Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Confidence in TV News hits new low

The latest in Gallup's annual tracking poll of confidence in U.S. institutions showed that only 21% of Americans have either "a great deal of confidence in" or "quite a lot of confidence in" TV news - the lowest level since Gallup added TV news to its tracking poll in 1993.  The decline in confidence in TV news was the highest decline expressed this year (falling from 27%).  The poll showed that Americans have a bit more confidence in newspapers - 25%.  Confidence in newspapers declined slightly in the last year, but was still a bit higher than the 2007 level of 22%.  Still, it was half the level of confidence in newspapers at their peak in 1979 (51%).  While all of the annual declines are within the poll's sampling error, the trend is fairly obvious.

What's more interesting in this year's results are some of the demographic breakdowns, particularly for the TV news question.  This year's decline is fed by significant drops in confidence in TV news for self-identified liberals and moderates, who actually expressed less confidence in TV news that did conservatives.  Republicans and Independents shared the same level of confidence (17%), which was half of that indicated by Democrats (34%) - a result that could further fuel the debate about bias in TV news.  (One would expect that a truly unbiased news would have the same level of confidence across groups)  Perhaps more worrisome for TV news is that there appears to be a clear education effect - the more educated the respondent, the lower the amount of confidence expressed.  Of the demographic breakdowns presented, the lowest level of confidence in TV news (10%) was among those with postgraduate education.
In contrast, the decline in confidence in newspapers seemed to be more general, with just about every provided demographic breakdown showing a small decline in confidence.  The only significant declines in the last year were among men (fell from 30% to 23%), and self-identified liberals (fell from 37% to 30%).
  And in case you wondered, the survey was conducted in early June - well before CNN and Fox blew the initial call on the Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare - so was not influenced by that very public error.  Also, yes, there's a general drop in the level of confidence shown in the 16 American institutions included in the survey (newspapers ranked 10th, TV news ranked 11th) - and once again Congress was the institution, of the 16 included in the survey, that Americans had the least confidence in (13%).

Source -  Americans' Confidence in Television News Drops to New Low, Gallup press release

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