Americans believe journalists ‘out of touch’

While most Americans believe journalism is important to their quality of life, two out of three Americans believe traditional news media are out of touch with what people want, according to a recent poll by Zogby International.

The poll found that 70 percent of Americans believe journalism is important, 64 percent express disappointment with the current quality of that journalism.

People said they were drifting away from traditional media, including television and newspapers, toward online news.

“For the second year in a row we have documented a crisis in American journalism that is far more serious than the industry’s business challenges – or maybe a consequence of them,” said Andrew Nachison, co-founder of iFOCOS. “Americans recognize the value of journalism for their communities, and they are unsatisfied with what they see. While the U.S. news industry sheds expenses and frets about its future, Americans are dismayed by its present. Meanwhile, we see clearly the generational shift of digital natives from traditional to online news – so the challenge for traditional news companies is complex.”

[Continue reading Out of Touch]

While much has been made out of Americans’ movement away from traditional media and onto the Internet, more research needs to be devoted toward assessing their media habits online. Such research could be good news for journalism.

For example, I’m one of those who now derives most of his news from the Internet. But that news still originates from more or less traditional media sources. On a typical Sunday morning, for example:

I have the television on while I read the news on the Web. Chris Wallace (FOX), followed by “Meet the Press” (NBC), George Stephanopoulos (ABC) and “The McLaughlin Group (PBS).

What am I reading while online?

  • Yahoo! Where every story I read was from Reuters and the Associated Press.
  • Columnists. George Will, Leonard Pitts, Pat Buchanan, Richard Cohen and David S. Broder. All of them appeared on newspaper Web sites.
  • The Drudge Report. One of the top online resources operated by a man judged one of the most “influential” journalists in the world. There I read various articles by Reuters and the Associated Press, a story from WCBS-TV and blog post by someone writing about an article in The Dallas Morning News.

These are hardly what I would call a revolt against “traditional media.” Even Drudge is more a baby step than a giant leap. The only thing that has changed is the delivery mechanism.

That’s not to say I don’t peruse other sites. I hit Poynter Online, where I read a few original articles as well as links to stories in traditional media. I visit some sites offering news about personal interests, such as sports, movies, online games and activities for my children. But here what I read mostly pertains directly to the site I’m visiting or links to stories from traditional media.

As I’ve said before, the medium of delivery may change, but the underlying substance continues to remain pretty much the same.

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This blog is maintained by Dr. Matthew M. Reavy as a service to journalism students at the University of Scranton.



February 2008
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