In my Media Responsibility class last week, we were given a list of American institutions and were asked to rate them from 1 to 16 – 1 being the institution we had the greatest confidence in and 16 being the least. It came as a little bit of shock to me that the majority of students had the least confidence in both television and newspapers, considering most of the students in these class were journalism majors.
This lack of trust isn’t just prevalent in the hearts of the 50 odd students in that one J66 class. In fact, a USA TODAY/ CNN/ Gallup Poll shows, only 36% of the American population, among the lowest in years, believe news organizations get the facts straight.
My question is why?
The truth is, there is no right answer. There are several explanations out there, but they are only partially true. In my opinion, the biggest concern is high level of inaccuracies.
Just in 2012, CNN and Fox News wrongly interpreted the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision and declared that the individual mandate had been struck down, making it the worst profile mistake of the year in the eyes of Regret the Error, a blog founded by award-winning journalist Craig Silverman, dedicated to showing how mistakes in media pollute the press.
This is just one of thousands of examples. When you have two of the most reputable news sources breaking the most important rule of court reporting (read the decision before you interpret it), how can we expect the public to establish trust in the media as a whole?
I am interested to know what you think about this issue and what you feel we as students of journalism can do to make a difference in the future of journalism.