Media

Tough Beat

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Americans increasingly see the national media as "unfair, inaccurate, and pushy," says a recent survey conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Two-thirds of respondents believe news organizations favor one side when covering social and political issues; 56 percent said stories and reports are "often" inaccurate; and about six out of 10 said the press unnecessarily invades people's privacy. Such a negative characterization helps explain the slide in viewership of network news: Only 40 percent of respondents said they watch network news shows on a regular basis, down from about 60 percent in 1993. The favorable rating of national newspapers has also slipped, from 48 percent in 1985 to 41 percent.

The bad feelings toward national media are offset somewhat by continued regard for local news: Eight out of ten respondents had a favorable opinion of local news broadcasts, roughly the same as in 1985; 74 percent had a favorable opinion of local daily newspapers, down slightly from 12 years ago.

The survey, which drew on a nationwide sample of over 1,000 adults, was conducted in February. Full results can be found at the Pew Research Center Web site (www.people-press.org).