Study: Public Says Press Bad, Freedom Bad

A study released today by the University of Connecticut Department on Public Policy found (surprise!) a significant gap between the public and the press on details like freedom of speech and the government’s right to censor the press. Editor & Publisher offers an executive summary of the study, which found that 43% of the public says the press has too much freedom, while only 3% of journalists agree (who are those guys?). Shockingly (or not), only 14% of the public respondents could name “freedom of the press” as a guarantee in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

While many of the other findings are as predictably depressing as those, the study did mine some interesting data on blogs, and since this is a blog, we’ll concentrate on those data. The widest gap between the 1,000 regular folks and the 300 journalists polled opened between the 8 in 10 journalists who said they read blogs and the less than 1 in 10 others who read blogs. A majority of the news pros polled do not believe bloggers deserve to be called journalists (editor’s note: because they fear the POWER). But, of course, the journos’ greatest fear is irrelevance — the study found that 61% of non-journalist average Americans get most of their news from television (Thanks, Bill O’Reilly!), while only 20% read newspapers (Thanks, Wall Street Journal!).

A full 83% of journalists reported using blogs, with four in 10 claiming to use them at least once a week. Fifty-five percent of blog-using journalists said they use blogs when gathering news. And while 85% of the Fourth Estaters believe bloggers should enjoy First Amendment protections, three-quarters say bloggers are not journalists because they don’t adhere to “commonly held ethical standards” (whatever those are).

Finally, in what can only be seen as the triumph of technology over truth, “61% of the news pros say that the emergence of the Internet has made journalism better.”

We here at Pensito Review, unburdened as we are by commonly held or uncommonly held ethical standards, and blessedly protected as we are by the First Amendment, will continue to do our part to make journalism better, or, more to the point — make better journalism.


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