Don’t Write off Newspaper Readers…


The media seldom get high marks from the public. Depending on how the question is framed the media's overall reputation usually falls somewhere between politicians and used-car salesmen. But what gets lost in such surveys is how fickle the public can be vis-a-vis the media, borne out, for instance, by a new e-mail survey of newspapers readers conducted by the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) and first reported in Editor & Publisher. The e-mail survey of more than 2,500 newspaper readers -- via 39 dailies, including the Arizona Daily Star, The Spokesman Review and the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle - revealed that most people still trust mainstream media but think the recent flap about CBS's purported National Guard memos on President Bush (Rathergate) hurt credibility. While no hard data is being released, the report offers a summary based on responses and follow-up interviews. Among the more interesting nuggets: Most readers want more objectivity, fewer anonymous sources and for media outlets to take the time to verify the story and be quick to admit mistakes. Some want the media to lose the "perceived liberal bias" while others would like to see a "titanic shift from the traditional sense of objectivity. Despite the recent surge in so-called Blogs, four of five readers said they didn't read them. Respondents who did read blogs "urged caution but suggest the new medium offers great Potential as a watchdog of mainstream media." Readers rely on a small number of media sources for coverage of local elections and are much more trusting of local coverage than of national election coverage.

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