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Op/ed: Actually, People Don’t Hate the Media as Much as You Think

Researchers Say Trust Deficit, Partisan Divide Aren’t So Cut-and-Dried

By Tom Rosenstiel and Mariana Meza Hernandez

stack of newspapers

A closer look shows that the U.S. public values many things about the news media, a UMD researcher and colleague write in a new opinion piece.

Photo by Shutterstock

Americans may not be as divided and distrustful as some surveys and pundits make them out to be, according to a new essay from Tom Rosenstiel, Eleanor Merrill Scholar on the Future of Journalism and professor of the practice at the University of Maryland, and his colleague at the research firm NORC at the University of Chicago, Mariana Meza Hernandez.

Broad divides in sentiments toward the news media narrow if survey questions are simply asked a little differently, they write, and across the board, Americans say they find factual news reports valuable. While the media’s esteem has broadly fallen, “generalizations and monolithic assumptions” won’t help new organizations figure out how to give Americans the journalism they need, Rosenstiel and Hernandez write.

As the nation hurtles toward a critical election and the world confronts two wars, the fate of U.S. democracy is complicated by another pressure: the public’s low esteem of the media. Trust in the news is at record lows, especially among conservatives, and local news is at risk of dying out completely.

Isn’t that the case, repeated in poll after poll and bemoaned by pundits? That sad state hangs over everything, because democracy depends on an agreed-upon set of facts, a free press to discover them and a public square where citizens can find compromise over their differences.

But if you look more closely, the reality isn’t so simple—or so dire. There is far more trust in journalism these days than people often contend.

Read the rest in The Washington Post.



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