Pew survey finds majority of journalists reject idea that both sides ‘always deserve equal coverage’

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Results published on Tuesday from a Pew Research Center survey of nearly 12,000 journalists revealed interesting admissions and attitudes from the media about their industry and job performance.

The survey of U.S. journalists, conducted Feb. 16-March 17, 2022, showed conflicting opinions about the industry and the role of journalists.

While 77% said they would pursue a career in journalism over again, given the chance, and 75% said they were “very” or “extremely” proud of their work, 72% also “used a negative word to describe the news industry.”

Pew’s report read, “When asked to describe their industry in a single word, nearly three-quarters of journalists surveyed (72%) use a word with negative connotations, with the most common responses being words that relate to “struggling” and “chaos.” Other, far less common negative words include “biased” and “partisan,” as well as “difficult” and “stressful.”

Pew survey finds majority of journalists reject idea that both sides 'always deserve equal coverage'

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Bucking journalistic tradition, the majority surveyed revealed they don’t believe both sides deserve equal coverage. 

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55% said every side “does not always deserve equal coverage,” while 44% said journalists should strive to report on both sides of an issue.

Seemingly conflicting with this previous response, an overwhelming majority of journalists, 82%, said the press should keep their personal views out of their reporting, but only 55% told Pew that they think that journalists are succeeding at this goal.

Over half of journalists surveyed, 57%, also said they were  “extremely” or “very” worried about potential restrictions to press freedom in the United States. 

But an even larger majority, 71%, claimed fake news was “a very big problem for the country” even though just half of the public felt the same.

Pew survey finds majority of journalists reject idea that both sides 'always deserve equal coverage'

President Biden recently complained to reporters about his negative media coverage, according to Politico.
(REUTERS/Al Drago)

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Pew researchers also had journalists do a self-assessment answering what was “one thing” the news industry does best at, and one thing the news industry “does the worst job at these days.”

It may be surprising to hear from the previous answers, that “being unbiased” (20%) and “getting the story right” (23%) topped the journalists’ answers for what the media does poorly at. “Getting the news out” topped the list of media strengths (23%). Just nine percent of respondents said “connecting with the public,” was something journalists needed to work on.

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Polls from Gallup and Reuters in 2021 found that Americans had a consistent distrust of the media.

The Reuters report found only 29% of those in the U.S. said they could trust most news most of the time.

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