A recent poll from Northwestern University studied the relationship Americans have with news media. The polling began in December 2019, prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. The study was then repeated amidst the pandemic to capture the average person’s thoughts about the news including COVID-19 coverage.
The study found that more people do not trust social media as a news source, yet this is often cited as the main source of news for Gen Z. Since December, televised news has become the main source for consuming news for all other age groups. I assume this is because more people have been staying home, allowing them to tune in. And with less people on the road, many radio listeners have turned to the TV.
Since the pandemic, people are spending approximately 80 minutes a day accessing news compared to the 30 minutes last year. On top of keeping up with COVID-19, the presidential election is around the corner which is also contributing to the increase in consumption.
One key finding of the study that touched on politics noted that while the majority support freedom of speech and freedom of press, many would like to see media outlets with views different from their own be suppressed or even shut down. Around 40% of people polled agreed that the president should have the authority to close news outlets that engage in bad behavior.
Journalists subscribe to a code of ethics such as fairness, impartiality, truth, accuracy and accountability. This code helps eliminate “bad behavior” in journalism by seeking and reporting the truth while being aware of any potential biases.
As a watchdog of business and the government, the press must remain free.