Do you have confidence in television news? If your answer is "no," you’re definitely not alone. A new Gallup poll confirms that people are losing faith in broadcast news. Unfortunately, no clear reasons are known for this drop compared to numbers in 2011.
Just a couple of weeks back there was a huge error by some broadcasting networks incorrectly announcing the Supreme Court's decision on the healthcare ruling -- so it's no wonder so many doubt the accuracy of broadcast reporting. When I saw the correction, I was completely stunned that a network reporting on a huge story followed by millions of people would be so terribly mistaken. Is it wrong to assume that this is just one of many reasons for the decline in confidence?
When I first read the Mediabistro article today titled "Americans' Confidence in TV News at All-Time Low," I didn't think it was surprising to see these results. It is depressing, however, since I come from a broadcast background and am married to a television guy, but still -- the results did not shock me.
In discussing this topic with some colleagues, we came up with some ideas as to why television news audiences are losing confidence:
- Obvious political slant (to the left or right) of broadcasters. What happened to striving for objectivity and just reporting the facts?
- Broadcasters providing opinion and becoming part of the story.
- Broadcasters reporting erroneous information.
- Too many news "personalities" and talking heads, and not enough old-school journalists.
- Viewers not knowing where the information originates. It is not always obvious where reporters or producers get their information.
- Broadcasters' inappropriate appearances sometimes, whether it's too much makeup, too little clothing, or being dressed sloppily or too casually. Many viewers cannot take an inappropriately dressed reporter or anchor seriously, and it detracts from the story which should be the main focus.
- "Breaking" news that isn't really breaking and has been discussed for hours already. Also, placing a "Breaking News" banner on a story that is mentioned in the same breath as a more trivial story. For example, people killed in an explosion is nowhere near the same in severity as a dog being saved from a river, for example.
- Increasing use of sensationalism to attract viewership. It may attract some, but also drives many of us to change the channel.
Television news is not disappearing anytime soon, but broadcasters do need to start listening to viewers more if the industry is to survive. Locally, suggestions may be more important, since many local television news stations are cutting shows due to poor ratings.
Why don't YOU trust television news?
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