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Blame the local press?

Nicholas Kristof describes the current public distrust of the media:

Since 1973, the National Opinion Research Center has measured public confidence in 13 institutions, including the press. All of the other institutions have generally retained a good measure of public respect, but confidence in the press has fallen sharply since 1990.
Certainly FoxNews and, for conservatives, the New York Times can take some of the blame for this, but I suspect that local news media are at least as responsible as these national outlets are for the dwindling public respect for the press.

Think about the encounters that you or someone you know have had with the press as the subject of a news story. Most of us will have had interactions with the local press if we've ever "been in the news" at all. Now think about whether you thought the journalist you spoke with or who reported a story about you acted fairly and professionally. My guess is that many of you will say "Ick, no way, that guy was a slimeball."

Sadly, I don't have any juicy anecdotes of my own to share. I can only point to friends and relatives of mine who've felt slighted by the local press. It is a surprisingly common impression, though: everyone I know who's ever been interviewed can come up with a few choice four-letter words for the reporters in question.

If I haven't been living in some weird slimeball-local-reporter vortex, I suspect that much of the distrust of the press might be due to the pervasive lack of professionalism in the local news media.



funny, the beginning of distrust in the u.s. media coincided with vietnam and watergate... hmmmm... i'm really not trying to imply anything, just making an observation.


Actually, I do have a short anecdote about our local paper, The Michigan Daily. I was interviewed by a very friendly, very interested young woman who was careful with her note-taking and ensuring that I got an opportunity to read my quotes before the paper went to press.

However, between my approval of the proof and press-time, her editor changed one of the most significant facts in the story (making it blatantly wrong) because the editor thought it "explained things better." When I called to complain, the reporter told me that when she objected to her editor she was told "you're getting too personally involved with this story; you need to be more objective."