Accuracy in Media

A new survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows that news organizations have suffered a further decline in perceptions of credibility in the eyes of the public.

The survey rated 13 news outlets, including “60 Minutes,” The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, all three cable news outlets, plus the broadcast television networks and NPR, and found that the average believability rating was 56 percent, which is down from 62 percent in 2010 and 72 percent in 2002. That means that the negative perception of news organizations, at 44%, was at its highest level since the survey began in 2002, and shows the increasing distrust the public has for the media overall.

Local TV news led the way with a 65% positive rating, while The New York Times was at the bottom of the list, tied with Fox News and USA Today, having dropped from 58% to 49% since 2010.

Republicans were more distrustful than Democrats of all the broadcast networks, as well as MSNBC and CNN, while Democrats predictably had very little trust in Fox News. Surprisingly, Democrats rated The Wall Street Journal higher than Republicans did by a 65 to 57 percent margin despite the Journal’s conservative editorial page.

The latest survey reflects a slow but steady decline since the survey began in 2002. The six percentage point drop in believability since the last survey in 2010 was the largest decline since the 2002-2004 period when the positive ratings dropped from 71 percent to 63 percent.

While these numbers were rather glum for the industry, it is more than likely that they have not bottomed out yet and will only get worse in the next survey in 2014.

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