The Media Bubble is real: Study shows massive disconnect between Journalists and the Public

  • The media bubble is real: Study shows massive disconnect between
    Journalists and the Public
    By Joe Concha
    To say there’s a disconnect between many journalists and the public
    they serve is a gross understatement, according to a new in-depth
    survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
    Per Pew, 65 percent of the nearly 12,000 journalists surveyed say the
    media do a solid job of “covering the most important stories of the
    day” and reporting news accurately. But a solid majority of the
    American public at large has the opposite view, with just 35 percent
    feeling the same way. That’s a 30-point perception gap.
    When asked if journalists perform well when “serving as a watchdog
    over elected leaders,” 52 percent of journalists agreed. But the
    number dropped precipitously again when the general public was asked,
    with less than 3 in 10 agreeing with the assessment.
    When asked if journalists manage and correct misinformation
    consistently, 43 percent of those in the industry said yes, while just
    25 percent of the general public agreed.
    Almost half (46 percent) of journalists said they felt connected to
    their readers and viewers, while just one-quarter of the public says
    they feel connected to the media outlets from which they get their
    So why the disconnect? Perhaps it’s like the old saying about the key
    to good real estate: Location, location location. Most of the national
    media are located in two places: New York City and Washington, D.C.
    In the 2020 election, just 9 percent of Manhattan voters voted for
    Donald Trump. In D.C., the Trump support was just 5.4 percent,
    underscoring that those who live in or near these cities exist in
    overwhelmingly liberal silos. It’s only human nature that a
    journalist’s perception of issues will generally conform to the places
    and people with whom he works and lives.

Longtime newsman Bob
    Schieffer dove into this subject a few years back, explaining just how
    insulated journalists have become.
    “In 2004, one reporter in eight lived in New York, Washington, or Los
    Angeles,” Schieffer notes in his must-read book ”Overload: Finding the
    Truth in Today’s Deluge of News.” “That number is now down to
    one-in-five who live in those three places.”
    Schieffer saw another problem: The massive decrease of local reporters
    due to shrinking budgets.
    He writes, “While no solutions seem obvious, there is general
    agreement throughout the industry that if local newspapers go away and
    some entity does not rise to do what we have come to expect of them —
    that is, keep an eye on local government — we will experience
    corruption at levels we have never seen.”
    Since 2004, approximately 1,800 newspapers have shut down because of
    the collapse of print advertising and readers turning to more
    convenient online consumption. Fewer reporters and editors has
    resulted in less trust as news gathering becomes more and more
    confined to two or three cities.
    Overall, according to Pew, just 29 percent of U.S. adults say they
    have at least a fair amount of trust in the information they receive.
    In 1976 in the post-Watergate era, trust in the media stood at 72
    percent, or 43 points higher.
    A perfect example of the disconnect between certain journalists and
    the public came from CNN anchor Don Lemon.
    “At CNN, we don’t do opinion, we put the story out there and we try to
    stay in the middle of the road,” he claimed on air recently. In a
    related story, 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of Trump’s first 100 days
    in office was negative, according to a Harvard study, and it somehow
    got worse from there.
    But during the same segment, Lemon offered this opinion: “There is one
    party, right now, that is not operating in fact, that has been
    misleading the American people, and that is the Republican Party.” The
    host went on to praise the Democratic Party for “standing up for
    democracy.” You can’t make this stuff up.
    Nothing will change any time soon, either. More and more, local
    newspapers are cutting staffs as profits dwindle in the digital age.
    The result is that online news organizations almost exclusively
    headquartered in deep-blue New York or D.C. keep expanding.
    Another finding from the Pew study may be the most revealing: When
    asked to characterize the journalism industry in one word, 74 percent
    of journalists applied a word with a negative connotation, including
    “chaos” and “struggling.” Other words applied included “biased,”
    “partisan” and “stressful.” Despite those descriptions, 77 percent of
    journalists surveyed say they would choose the same career all over
    A 2013 study by University of Indiana journalism professors Lars
    Wilnat and David Weaver found that just 7 percent of journalists
    identify as Republican. In 2002, that number was 18 percent.
    So if you’re a Republican interviewing for a job at The New York
    Times, which hasn’t endorsed a Republican presidential candidate in 66
    years, or at The Washington Post, which has never endorsed a
    Republican presidential candidate, it would probably be a bad idea to
    share your party affiliation.
    Such is the state of media in 2022, where the bubbles in the Big Apple
    and the nation’s capital are increasingly soundproof, shutting out the
    rest of the world.
    * * * * *
    Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist and a Fox News contributor
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