Gallup media poll yields predictable, sobering results

When it comes to polling, Gallup is probably the most trusted name in existence.

So the latest Gallup/Knight foundation survey on trust, media and democracy deserves to be respected for its professionalism and objectivity.

The findings were instructive and hardly surprising to us.

• While 84 percent of Americans say that the media has an important role to play in democracy, just 33 percent have a “very favorable” or even “somewhat favorable” opinion of the news media.

• While 54 percent of Democrats hold a favorable view of the news media, only 15 percent of Republicans do.

• Moreover, 45 percent of those surveyed agreed that there is “a great deal” of political bias in news coverage, a significant increase from 1989, when only 25 percent said the same. Less than half of those surveyed said they could name an objective news source.

• And lastly, just 42 percent of those surveyed said that social media platforms have had a positive impact on the news media environment over the past decade.

The summary of these findings is that most Americans have an unfavorable view of the national news media, believe their coverage is biased and believe it tilts heavily on the negative side when it comes to Republican/conservative viewpoints.

We suppose that is to be expected in light of surveys that show an overwhelming majority of the national news media admit to holding liberal viewpoints and voting that way.

The sad part is that, more and more, the substance of coverage has gone in recent years from being subconsciously tilted toward their personal preferences to being the root factor in how the news is covered and what slant is brought to almost every story.

It’s not supposed to be that way.

And it’s not that way at this newspaper regarding the coverage our newsroom produces each day. We emphasize objectivity, all sides to every story as much as news sources make it possible, and thoroughness.

Far too often, it doesn’t appear those principles are adherred to by our colleagues on the national news front. And that cuts into the trust factor regarding everyone in the business of serious journalism.

There are too many stories based on one-sided sourcing that leads to inaccuracies, half-truths and sometimes false information. These stories, we fear, are the result of coverage and angles based more on agendas and talking points than simply covering the news of the day.

They amount to a breach of trust that is not good for the profession of journalism, all who are sworn to practice it with professionalism, or for news consumers.

The danger is that if these practices continue, the good-faith efforts of most in the business of journalism will lose their muscle as the average news consumer becomes less respectful of the accuracy of our work, as evidenced by the Gallup Poll.

We promise to keep doing our best to provide you with a reliable, objective news product. The only page with conscious opinion attached will be this one. And we hope media in other organizations that supply national news will take these survey results as fair criticism and act to change perceptions by approaching the providing of information differently.