A new poll reveals over the last four years, journalists – more so than any other profession studied – have suffered a precipitous drop in the public’s esteem.
According to a Pew Research Center poll, only 28 percent of Americans are willing to say journalists “contribute a lot to society’s well-being,” a 10-point drop since 2009.
About as many U.S. adults – 27 percent – now say journalists contribute “not very much” or “nothing at all” to society as say they contribute a lot – 28 percent.
Meanwhile, the military tops the list for contributing to society, as 78 percent affirm our soldiers’ role in improving the nation’s well-being, while teachers come in second at 72 percent and doctors in third at 66 percent.
At the bottom of the list: Lawyers, with 18 percent, business executives at 24 percent and now journalists joining the bottom three with 28 percent.
The findings echo a Gallup poll from last year, which found distrust in the media has hit an all-time high.
When asked, “How much trust and confidence do you have in the mass media – such as newspapers, TV and radio – when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly,” 60 percent of respondents told Gallup “not very much” or “not at all.” Forty percent admitted a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust.
“The current gap between negative and positive views – 20 percentage points – is by far the highest Gallup has recorded since it began regularly asking the question in the 1990s,” the polling organization reported. “Trust in the media was much higher, and more positive than negative, in the years prior to 2004 – as high as 72 percent when Gallup asked this question three times in the 1970s.”
Not surprisingly, the Gallup poll found Democrats much more trusting of the mass media, with 58 percent of Democrats admitting “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust the major news outlets were giving them the straight story. Only 31 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of independents shared their trust.
The drop in esteem for journalists measured by Pew, however, showed up across every party, age, education and gender demographic. It was most pronounced among women, who reflected a 17-point drop in from 2009 to 2013.
Of the 10 professions measured in the Pew poll, nine reflected at least marginal drops in esteem from 2009 to 2013, but the 10-point drop for journalists was the worst. The only profession to gain was business executives, who saw only 21 percent acknowledge their contribution to society in 2009, but 24 percent affirming a positive difference in 2013.
Pew’s report is based on cell phone and landline interviews of 4,006 adults in all 50 states conducted between March 21 and April 8. Interviews were done in both English and Spanish and were conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International.