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I came across an article about a month ago in New York magazine detailing the results of a survey of 113 colleagues working in print, television, and digital media, “asking that they use the opportunity to air their grievances and bare their souls .”  The article can be read here (and it is quite long) but I thought I’d share some of the responses and add a couple of my own.

In your view, the biggest problem with the media these days is :

  • A broken business model that leaves journalists insufficiently funded to do good work.
  • Prioritization of speed over accuracy.
  • Lack of editors, editorial oversight, and training for young journalists in how to write and report.

Abbie’s response:  with so many choices available to the consumer, not sure any “media” can truly break through the noise.

The No. 1 reason people distrust the media more now is because:

  • The notion of authority and accountability has been eroded by internet journalism which allows anybody to write anything.
  • Social media and cable networks have created a "find who says what you want to hear" society.

Abbie’s response: The perception is that media is no longer independent and/or objective .

Should newspapers and other journalistic outlets give up on maintaining political objectivity?

  • Absolutely not. It is imperative that we rely on the pillars of our industry: integrity, objectivity, research, facts, and reliable, trusted sources.
  • Everyone is always going to have some political bias, regardless of how hard you try to be objective, so the most honest you can possibly be is to be up front about what that is.
  • "Objectivity" is the wrong goal. Truth is the correct goal, and seeking it requires ambition and airtight standards, not "objectivity."

Abbie’s response: No way!  Whether society believes the media is objective or not doesn’t mean the media should stop trying to be so.

Some people say the media’s focus on “bad” news contributes to public anxiety and the perception that the world is going to hell.

  • I very much agree. Objectively, the world has become a safer and better place. With the rise of citizen journalism, cell-phone video, etc., it is always possible to find and quickly disseminate "bad" news. It is very important to get many of these stories out there, but they do overshadow all the good things happening in the country and the world and I believe create fervor that everything is wrong with our society. I think that a lot is wrong, but I think that objectively things are much better than they used to be.
  • I believe this is more the case with local television news, where time is limited and crime and mayhem stories offer more compelling video.

Abbie’s response:  Let’s face it, we all learned in journalism school that “if it bleeds, it leads.” So to some extent this statement might be true.  But I don’t think there is “more bad” in the world, I think we have more places to learn and share about the bad. 

Is the media better or worse than it was a decade ago?

  • It is both better and worse. Better special project, investigative work. But worse and far more daily dreck.
  • There are more voices, from more perspectives, and more backgrounds, in more places, producing more high-quality work of more varied treatments. (The caveat, right, is that that hasn't extended to purely hyper-local journalism.)

Abbie’s response: not better or worse, but definitely different.  The definition of media changes on a daily basis. 

 Some of the other questions were specific to political coverage, which I’m not going to address here.

But to close out, here are a few agree/disagree response:

  • Overall the internet has been good for journalism, 75.93% agree.
  • Overall social media has been good for journalism, 53.27% agree.
  • Does Facebook’s dominance on the distribution of news trouble you, 81.42% agree.
  • Are journalists more cynical about the world than their readers, 72.97% agree.

So communications and media friends – share your responses to these questions.  I’d love to know what you think.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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