Everything’s Cool — ‘Trust Me’

September 30, 2010

A new Gallup poll indicates a majority of US peoples don’t trust the mass media — Trust in the media is now slightly higher than the record-low trust in the legislative branch but lower than trust in the executive and judicial branches of government, even though trust in all three branches is down sharply this year. These findings also further confirm a separate Gallup poll that found little confidence in newspapers and television specifically.

And why are we not surprised?

(Illustration found here).

I was out of regular, daily journalism for nearly 20 years, and upon re-entering the field, what a difference a couple of decades — gone was any kind of media camaraderie, or the exciting, fun-filled joy of chasing a story or any kind of desire to publish something for the public to consume without choking.
The big suck was corporations’ ownership of media outlets — I watched a big company completely destroy a good, strong community newspaper in the quest to reduce deficits, all to the bad for writer and reader.
According to Politico, there’s too much politics: (Duh!)

Perhaps one of the leading factors for American distrust in the media is the high percentage who believe that reporting tilts too far in one ideological direction or the other.
Forty-eight percent believe the media is too liberal while only 15 percent of find that it tilts too conservative. Just 33 percent believe coverage is “just about right.”

Duh! Again.

From The Atlantic:

Who’s to blame?
You can start with the news, itself.
Sometimes, bad news breeds distrust, which explains why the high-water mark for media trust came in the late ’90s, and the peaks in distrust came during the most violent parts of the Iraq war and the recession. You can also blame the fragmentation of media, which is siphoning viewers off into their respective ideological corners.
Today, you can incubate in hyper-conservative medialand or the super-socialist blogosphere and ignore the middle in a way you couldn’t when there were only three TV networks and blog was not a word.
But I also blame journalists.
On the one hand, you can make the good case that we are in a golden age of journalism, where technology and innovation are enriching story-telling and creating a kind of infinite buffet that serves every interest and proclivity of the American audience.
On the other hand, mainstream media voices increasingly distinguish themselves by telling us not to trust the rest of the mainstream media.
Think about all of the mass media today that tells us how stupid mass media is.
Bill O’Reilly is the most watched person on cable news, and he regularly complains about the stranglehold of liberals on the news cycle.
Fox News and MSNBC attract a good deal of attention by identifying (or sometimes fabricating) media strawmen to slay with a quip.
Glenn Beck is the most ascendant figure in modern media, and his central message is: Don’t trust anybody. Jon Stewart is the most trusted figure in media, and his central message is: Don’t trust Glenn Beck.
The former treats media as a conspiracy.
The latter treats media as a joke.

And when a mock journalist is more trusted than a “real” journalist — WTF!
And 20-30 years ago there was no “mass media” — cable was just arriving in many US locations — and people snagged their news from “the big three” TV networks and, if you weren’t brain dead, maybe NPR, but that was most likely it for news.
Newspapers, of course, have slowly slid out of the view of news.
For major ‘for instance’ is the Washington Post, once the pinnacle of strong, reporter-working-hard journalism, but Kate Graham would most surely get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if she were alive today and could peruse the Post‘s pages.
Sad, but apparently that’s way it is.

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