Sunday, September 27, 2009

More to Pew poll than headlines

"Most Americans believe media biased" was a common headline two weeks ago when the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released its updated survey on people's attitude about the news media. However, the survey is deeper than a headline and isn't all bad news for journalists -- or conscientious news consumers

For one thing, the survey doesn't differentiate between journalists and media advocates such as Rush Limbaugh, Amy Goodman or Walter Williams. They all have fans, but they're much more entertainers or opinionated writers than reporters who strive to offer stories that are complete, fair and accurate. Further, only indirectly considered is human nature -- appreciating contents that reinforce one's existing beliefs and discounting material that disputes or disagrees with beliefs as biased.

Finally, buried in the Pew study are tidbits of positives or surprises amid the conventional-wisdom blather:

*"For more than two decades, majorities have expressed the view that a critical press keeps leaders from doing things that should not be done,"

*"Even among those younger than 30, substantially more say they get most local news from newspapers (39%) than from the Internet (21%)," and

*"Young people are actually more likely to say it would be an inportant loss if national news sources such as network TV evening news, cable news and large ntional newspapers shut down.

Elsewhere, the Newspaper Project <> is less than a year old in its mission to "support a productive exchange of information and ideas about the future of newspapers," but its public-service ads are gaining some attention. Here's one --