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03.14.2008
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Nearly half of Americans do not trust TV news political coverage

The trust to distrust quotient of Americans regarding TV news isn’t particularly good for newsrooms across the country at the moment, according to a new online Harris Poll from Harris Interactive.

According to the poll, 46 percent of respondents said they didn’t trust TV news, while 36 percent said they do trust TV news. TV stations fared somewhat better in terms of public trust than the press in general, which 54 percent of Americans say they tend not to trust, the poll found.

Compared to the Internet, Americans have less trust in TV news. Forty-one percent said they trust Internet news and information sites, while 34 percent do not, according to Harris Interactive.

The number of Americans who trust radio news was 44 percent, and 32 percent tend not to trust radio, it found.

Harris Interactive also broke down its findings in terms of the political affiliation of respondents. Here, television did particularly poorly among Republicans. The poll found that while 50 percent of Democrats say they tend to trust TV news, only 31 percent of Republicans did so. In terms of the press in general, 43 percent of Democrats trust the news media, while a mere 19 percent of Republicans said they trusted the press.

The poll offered a silver lining for those involved in TV news. It found that in this election year when Americans seek political news, 70 percent tune into local news all the time or occasionally. Local news was followed by cable news channels, such as CNN, FOX News and MSNBC. Sixty-five percent also said they read their local newspaper for political coverage all or some of the time, and 64 percent tune into network TV news.

The new media efforts of the established broadcast and print media don’t appear to be gaining much traction among Americans when it comes to political news. Thirty-two said they never visit national newspaper Web sites for political news; 30 percent never go to cable news Web sites for political coverage. Twenty-eight percent visit national newspapers, like “The New York Times” or “USA Today,” for political news all or some of the time, while the same number visit the Web sites of national news magazines for such coverage, according to the poll.

Age plays a factor as well. Eighty-three percent of those aged 63 and older are more likely to turn to local news all or some of the time, while 74 percent of 44- to 62-year-olds tune to cable news. Seventy-four percent of the same Baby Boomer demographic read local newspapers, while 73 percent watch network TV news, the poll said.

Baby Boomers are also most likely to visit national newspaper Web sites and those of cable TV networks, Harris found.

The poll was conducted Jan. 15-22. Harris Interactive surveyed 2302 U.S. adults online.


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