Dewey Defeats Truman

February 23, 2012

by Dan Ward


Those who have proclaimed victory of the Internet over newspapers and other “mainstream media” sources might want to take a look at a survey commissioned by Craig Newmark’s craigconnects.

As reported by the Poynter Institute, the survey finds that when it comes to accurately reporting on politics and elections, newspapers, cable news and network news are seen as most credible.  (Twenty-two percent said newspapers are “very credible,” followed by cable news and network news at 21 percent apiece.)  While 22 percent is nothing to write headlines about, it’s much better than the numbers for online sources.  (Internet news sites came in at 13 percent, followed by blogs and social media at 6 percent.)

In what might also be seen as a surprise, 34 percent of respondents felt that social media sites have had a negative effect on the quality of news reporting, twice as many as those who feel social media has had a positive effect.

And for those who love to crow about Internet sources that are the first to break news, you are in the vast minority if you view that as most important when choosing news sources.  When asked which characteristics are most important when choosing news sources while an election is happening, only 6 percent answered “first to report story,” while 49 percent chose “trustworthy,” and 23 percent chose “in-depth analysis.”

While it would be nice to see this study go beyond the election cycle and look at perceptions of sources for all news, this has to be seen as a good sign for those of us who still see a role for newspapers and other mainstream media … sources that have traditionally valued credibility and quality over the rush to publish.

The question is whether newspapers will get the hint, or whether they will continue to lose the qualities people see as most important in the mad rush to compete for online clicks.


February 23, 2012

by Dan Ward

It’s routinely said that there is a left-leaning bias in the news media.  While there appears to be decades of anecdotal evidence supporting this, an ongoing study of news coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign could suggest otherwise.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, the tone of news coverage so far this year is overwhelmingly negative when it comes to President Obama, while coverage of Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum appears to be more balanced.

The Campaign 2012 study tracks the tone and volume of news coverage about the candidates, combining “human coding with the power of algorithmic analysis” of more than 11,000 new websites around the United States.

According to Pew’s analysis, coverage of President Obama has been trended about 10 percent positive and 30 to 40 percent negative over the last eight months.  Positive coverage of Mitt Romney during that time has averaged between 20 and 30 percent, with negative coverage spiking to 40 percent only in the last 30 days.  Positive coverage for Mr. Santorum has actually exceeded negative coverage over the last two months, according to Pew.

So, does this one study refute the “liberal media” label, or does it only fuel more debate?

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