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Survey: U.S. Media Biased

April 16, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Americans sharply criticized newspapers in a national survey released Thursday that accuses the media of chasing sensationalist stories in order to sell papers.

The report, delivered at the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ annual meeting, found that 78 percent of the public believes there is bias in the media. Another 42 percent thinks there is bias in TV news, 23 percent in newspapers and 17 percent in magazines.

In addition, nearly 50 percent of the respondents believe editorial decisions are made by executives who want to sell more newspapers.

``I’m not surprised,″ said Jan Schaffer, executive director of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism in Washington. ``I think it echoes other research. It suggests that what we’re doing is ineffective and even hurtful to our credibility long term.″

The survey by Urban & Associates also found that:

_ Newspaper stories include too many factual errors and spelling or grammar mistakes, which are blamed on deadline pressure.

_ Newspapers fail to consistently show respect or knowledge of readers and their communities.

_ Values of journalists and their editors sometimes conflict with the priorities for their newspapers.

_ Reporter biases influence what stories are covered and how.

_ Those most critical of the media were members of the public interviewed by a reporter or the subject of a story.

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