Thursday, September 13, 2018

How Americans " Really" Feel About The Press

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A major Gallup/Knight Foundation study confirms what most of us already know: Americans don't like the press and we don't trust them.

The survey says the key question is, "Can the trust and confidence be restored?"

Also. I've heard from the Free Methodist Church regarding their pastor I wrote about yesterday---the pastor who testified against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Be informed.

Yesterday I wrote about Free Methodist Pastor Alicia Baker's testimony last Friday before the Senate Committee regarding the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Pastor Baker strongly advocated Kavanaugh not be confirmed because the pastor said she "feared" he would oppose free birth control devices and pills.

And she accused companies like Hobby Lobby, organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor and others of using their religion to avoid paying for birth control in their insurance packages.

I noted that I have known and worked with a number of Free Methodist pastors over the years, and none of them ever expressed views anywhere close to Baker's views.

I received several personal emails from people who had read this column and had heard me on the radio express my surprise at her comments given her affiliation with the Free Methodist Church.

They informed me that the Free Methodist Church has now issued a statement. Apparently, Alicia no longer works with the Free Methodist Church but continues to represent herself as a pastor with the denomination---which is how she was introduced at Friday's hearing.

In the statement, Bishop David Kendall of the Free Methodist Church said in part:

Alicia does not represent the FMC’s official positions, nor is she a spokesperson for the church. Our commitments to pro-life issues are as solid as ever. We hold our pastors and people accountable for living into our vision of holy life and faithfulness to the scriptures. Alicia has come to conclusions that we believe are mistaken and questionable scientifically and medically. We do not punish people or kick them out for wrong conclusions, we talk with them and counsel with them.
Our insurance provides per our convictions and does offer birth control compatible with our advocacy for life and protection/care for the unborn.
The FMC does not endorse candidates for the Supreme court, but expects our people to respond to all of these matters with wisdom and courage on the basis of scripture, reason, tradition and experience of faithful people to Jesus Christ everywhere.

Now, about the news media.

Simply stated--- what you and I have thought all along is true. The public doesn't trust the press.

The Gallup/Knight survey found that "The news media, like many other major US institutions, has suffered from a decline in public confidence."

It's so bad that "Most US adults, including more than 9 in 10 Republicans, say they personally have lost trust in the news media in recent years. At the same time, 69% of those who have lost trust say that trust can be restored."


Gallup asks, "Is the trust lost for good, or can it be restored?"

After spending time reviewing their study, it seems to me that the "if" is if the media will become more accurate in what they report, and lose their bias. Particularly their bias that favors the far Left.

Gallup says,
"Sixty-nine percent of US adults in the current survey say their trust in the news media has decreased in the past decade. Just 4 percent say their trust has increased, while 26 percent say their trust has not changed. Republicans ( 94%) and political conservatives (95%) are nearly unanimous in saying their trust in the media has decreased in the past decade. However, declining trust is not just confined to the political right---75% of independents and 66% of moderates indicate they are less trusting than they were 10 years ago."

Some interesting findings.

  • 69 percent of Americans say their trust in the media has decreased in the last decade; 94 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of independents and 42 percent of Democrats agree.
  • 69 percent overall say confidence in the media “can be restored”; 60 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of independents and 86 percent of Democrats agree
  • 1 percent overall ‘trust all news organizations”; 0 percent of Republicans, 0 percent of independents and 2 percent of Democrats agree.
  • 17 percent overall ‘trust most news organizations”; 3 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats agree.
  • 67 percent overall say they ‘trust only some news organizations”; 75 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 64 percent of Democrats agree.
  • 16 percent overall “do not trust any news organizations”; 21 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of independents and 2 percent of Democrats agree.

Can trust in the news media be restored?

The Gallup/Knight study basically says it will be very difficult, but it's possible by doing these 3 things:

  1. Improve accuracy. 
  2. Enhance transparency. 
  3. Reduce bias.

The decline of these 3 virtues in the news has been, as they say, a long and winding road.

Media Research Center has created an overview---a profile, of the decline of accuracy, transparency and bias in the "news" from 1962 to about 2014. Check it out. It's very informative.

Personally, I don't think the news media will ever be restored to the trusted institution it once was.

Here's why.

Journalism in the United States was one of the first industries to feel the bite of the digital revolution. Print advertising dollars became online dimes and nickels. The business of news changed. The influence of the big papers was diminished. Stockholders demanded management to adapt to survive, while a new generation of "journalists" became more focused on social issues---their personal favorite social issues--- and recognized just how much influence their reporting could influence the culture.

The birth of bias as a norm followed. Liberal news sources like CNN, MSNBC and others became known for their liberal bias and soon ceased even making veiled attempts at denying it.

In the vacuum, Fox News rolled out a bias to the right, calling it fair and balanced.

All found their audience, while ABC, CBS, and NBC tried to remain the "legitimate news" identity, but have been swept up into the progressive Left tide ---for the most part, because of the personal beliefs of their journalists and producers.

With the mix of print and digital, and digital and broadcast "news," the product has been forced to compete in ways never imagined before.

A combination of activist journalists and the do-or-die demand for more clicks and more eyes, "Fake News" was born.

News organizations now publish lead news stories on the basis of an "anonymous source."

Personally, I don't think news as it was will ever be restored to the "good old days" known to previous generations. The mainstream media, as it was once called, is still hanging on, but nobody believes what they say. Most all news sources are inaccurate, not transparent, and biased in most all they report.

Parallel news sources have already developed in broadcast and in digital, and more are coming.

I believe that's the future of news.

Our task is to be very, very vigilant, and discerning. Choose your bias, and find the source you can trust, and remain informed. And be actively engaged in the culture.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful.