Readers, do we understand each other?
As consumers of news and information, do you have a clear sense of the how and why of journalism and its role in a democracy?
I would like to believe a clear understanding does exist between journalists and our audiences. But according to a fascinating report released this week, that may be not be so. In fact, what we may have is “a failure to communicate” that contributes to a distressing distrust in the news media overall.
“We have a public that doesn’t fully understand how journalists work and journalism that doesn’t make itself understandable to much to the public,” states the Media Insight Project report, an initiative of the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The report was based on twin surveys that asked parallel questions of journalists and the public about what they understand about each other.
Not surprisingly, a key finding points to agreement on a critical — and timeless — fact revealed in almost every media credibility study I have examined over the past 30 years: “Above all, the public says it wants accuracy.”
Indeed, that is aligned with what journalists see as job one, too. Large majorities of journalists and the public believe the news media should verify and get the facts right, be fair to all sides and be neutral in reporting.