Little Public Support for Newspaper Industry Bailout, Poll Finds

By: Mark Fitzgerald Nearly 8 out of 10 Americans would oppose any plan to spend tax dollars to aid failing newspapers, according to a poll on news media trustworthiness released Wednesday.

That reluctance might have something to do with the fact that 38.1% of respondents to the poll by Sacred Heart University said they are reading newspapers less often than five years ago. Or the fact that nearly half, 45%, said they think the Internet is "adequately covering for failing newspapers." Just 35.6% disagreed with that statement.

The third annual Sacred Heart poll found substantial support for the notion that good journalism ensures a healthy democracy, with 64.1% in agreement.

On the other hand, the poll found Americans do not believe they are getting "good journalism." Just under 68% of respondents agreement with this statement: "Old-style, traditionally objective and fair journalism is dead." Just 26.5% disagreed, while 5.6% were unsure.

Much of Sacred Heart poll concerns mainstream television news, which respondents clearly view with jaundiced eyes. Fully 83.6% said national news media organizations were very or somewhat biased while just 14.1% viewed them as somewhat unbiased or not at all biased.

Overall, just 55.9% of respondents said they expected the media to tell the truth.

"This perception of bias will eventually catch up with the news media outlets -- we found 45.9% have permanently stopped watching a news media organization, print or electronic, because of perceived bias," said Jerry C. Lindsley, director of the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute, which conducted the poll through telephone interviews of 800 Americans in early September.


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