A recent Gallup poll finds that public confidence in the media is at an all-time low. Interestingly, confidence was lowest among those who reported following the news most closely. In other words, the people who arguably know the most are the people most skeptical of what they are–and are not–being told.
In my Media and Public Policy class last Wednesday, students voiced their dismay over the Indianapolis Star, which has abandoned any pretense of investigative reporting on city and state government. If someone brings an issue to the attention of the paper, they may run it, but any visible effort to actually monitor local government, or to act as the eyes and ears of the voters, is long gone.
Local television news is equally superficial, although in fairness, it is often better than the current Star. Historically, the local channels have taken their cues from print media; in the absence of anything resembling meaningful local news from newspapers, they are floundering.
So we have lots of sports coverage. And at the Star, which has continued to “downsize” its investigative reporting capacity, a new reporter for the all-important “beer and entertainment beat.”
The national networks aren’t appreciably better . In fact, their credibility may be worse.
Politifact has a new rating system, which is using scorecards to track the accuracy–or lack thereof–of network pundits and “on-air personalities.”
Right now, you can look at the NBC/MSNBC file and see how that network’s pundits and on-air talent stand. For instance, 46 percent of the claims made by NBC and MSNBC pundits and on-air personalities have been rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.
At FOX and Fox News Channel, that same number is 60 percent. At CNN, it’s 18 percent.
(Forgive the snark, but I can’t help attributing CNN’s better rating to the fact that it provides less news. I mean, how much misdirection can you work into weeks spent tracking a missing plane?)
So–we can’t rely on the veracity of the national news networks, and there is no local general interest journalism left.
No wonder no one trusts anyone anymore.