Reflecting changes that are reshaping the media landscape in this country and abroad, the largest number of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say news websites are their primary source for news today. Newspaper print editions and TV were tied in distant second place.
With the proliferation of media, however, the quality of news reporting has declined, most say.
Since the mid-1990s, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has conducted biennial national surveys on news media consumption. The just-released 2012 report shows ongoing changes in the media landscape, with traditional sources such as newspapers, TV and radio facing increasing competition from online sources, including their own websites.
Asked where they got news the day before, a majority of Pew respondents-55 percent-said on TV. Thirty-nine percent said online, 33 percent said they listened to radio news and 29 percent read a newspaper.
Two decades ago, responses to the same Pew survey question were TV, 68 percent; newspaper, 56 percent; and radio, 54 percent.
The new Pew report notes that "substantial percentages of the regular readers of leading newspapers now read them digitally." In the RBJ Snap Poll, 49 percent of respondents said news websites-including newspapers, TV, radio and online-only-are their primary source for news.
Nearly 790 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Oct. 1 and 2.
In general, what is your primary source for news?
News websites: 9%
Email newsletters: 3%
Social media: 3%
With the proliferation of media, has the quality of news reporting improved or declined?
No change: 15%
The news media has and is failing America. We need better, unbiased news reporting. We also need to focus on educating the public on economics and how business works.
—Peter Caines, Penfield
Most of our news input comes online or from TV. I do miss reading the paper in the morning. Just kind of feels nice to do it. The quality of the news hasn’t changed, but I don’t watch a lot of TV news. Too many commercials makes it a waste of time.
I read, appreciate and value my daily, home-delivered newspaper. The Syracuse Post-Standard is reducing that to three times a week. That will increase my use of websites for current news. However, I will miss getting the paper each morning.
—Sandra Baker, Research & Marketing Strategies Inc., Baldwinsville
This is a naive survey to ask which is the primary source of news. Isn’t the whole point that we are all using multichannel sources? I pick up news from at least a dozen places during the week including magazines, newspapers, blogs, Google+ feeds, radio.
—Martha Bush, SIGMA Marketing Group
With the 24-hour news cycle, it is impossible not to use electronic media to access the daily news. I still subscribe to multiple print newspapers, and those will be hard to give up. I find that the quantity does not equal the quality, and I have to be very selective in choosing which media outlets give me the balanced, factual, in-depth reporting I appreciate.
—Tom Sargent, Penfield
When I say that the quality of news reporting has declined, I’m referring to those situations where the media, in a rush to be the first to report something, start out with incomplete and/or inaccurate information. This happens all the time, and there are never any retractions or corrections, or admissions that the initial reporting was erroneous. This is how rumors get started and we have a dozen different versions of the same story. Take a little more time, and get your facts straight before reporting the story!
—Deborah Emerson, Central New York Library Resources Council
You’ve got it backwards: The decreased quality of news reporting has resulted in a proliferation of media. My dad subscribed to Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, and all three were quality news sources back then. Luckily there are many alternative news sources now, although you have to be careful of the quality.
—Karen Zilora, Creative Scanning Solutions Inc.
It is criminal that the "Main Street media" is so blatant in their support of the Democratic Party. Whatever happened to journalism?
—Frank Gerham Jr., Westminster Financial
The media bias is out of control! The mainstream media is in the bag for Obama. I get my news from the Drudge Report or Fox News.
The left-wing slant in the media is out of control. A 1st grader could recognize that the media cares only about one thing-keeping the Democrats in power and accusing Republicans of being racists.
For political news I generally watch a major network (NBC), and then believe the opposite of what they report.
—Jim Rugby, Pittsford
For most items, the newspaper is usually “yesterday’s news,” since we are enjoying real-time awareness of happenings as they unfold. I find it interesting and useful.
—Joe Cameron, Cameron Computers Inc.
I don’t have a primary source of news any more—you pick up bits and pieces from various places and piece it together. The preachy left-wing bias in the “traditional” media is annoying and limits my willingness to read/watch it. On the other hand, the conservative media is more amateurish. For this reason a lot of people have dropped out of keeping up; it’s just too much work to figure out what’s really going on through the spin. Its not good for democracy, but it is what it is.
Most of the media has a left-wing bias. There are many studies out there that have proven it. One of the most noteworthy is a UCLA study which concluded 18 of the 20 major news outlets have left-wing bias. It’s good that there is now alternatives to the traditional newspapers, TV, radio, etc. However,the left-wing bias is still prevalent and has damaged the country.
—John Rynne, president Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.
With the array of choices available you can now be up to speed on almost any issue. And today it’s very easy to spot media bias. The days of three networks and two wire services controlling the headlines are thankfully over.
—George Thomas, Ogden
Newspapers have lost their mandate to objectively report in a factual manner without political bias. I have given up on the Democrat and Chronicle because of its bias. I think most of the cause for the decline in print media is because of the absence of critical analysis and the political bias. Liberal reporting has had a definite negative effect on print media.
—Dave Coriale, Webster
It’s disappointing how often I see grammatical errors and typos in the D&C. One wonders if editors are proofing copy. Also, too many stories are begun with no context, assuming the reader already knows this. The rule of thumb should be that the story must be able to stand alone, with no presumed knowledge on the reader’s part. Check out the Boston Globe, NY Times, or Wall Street Journal for examples of well-written news stories.
News does not seem objective any more—each station has their own twist on reporting.
National and state news is relatively useless because of its horrific pro-government/pro-politician slant.
Local TV news needs to go more in-depth and spend less time on weather. National news has become more opinion and less real news. The local (daily) paper has become an advertising vehicle with obits getting more space than real news and editorials written by some of the most lightweight, pompous writers that it’s no wonder it usually blows away in my driveway before I can reach it.
I don’t consume any live news any more. I am satisfied to read my news (without the breathless commentation) on sites like the RBJ and N.Y. Times. I consume news through both direct reading and referrals through social media to articles that friends think are interesting. RBJ as a publication is excellent—and also the last paper news I still read. For the subscription fee paid, there should be an easy to use, no additional charge, Android and iOS app to consume your news online, with adequate sharing privileges.
—Lee Drake, CEO, Os-Cubed Inc.
The quality of the writing and utter lack of editing has lowered the news content to, at best, a sixth grade reading level and I may be insulting sixth graders. Not just the proper use of apostrophes and commas, but actual sentence structure, verb tense and choice of words has sufferred. Whilst you may assume I am yet another English teacher lamenting this decline, I hold a BS in biology and psychology and an MBA with concentrations in accounting & information systems and finance. Even a 55-year-old “numbers” person can appreciate the need for basic grammar and long for “the good old days” of more sophisticated journalism. Are you listening, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle media group?
The D&C is a 5-minute read. The Wall Street Journal is an excellent read. The local TV news keeps me up to date on local matters. The network news is worthless. The cable news is the main source of balanced news. I mainly watch Fox News, with an occasional glance at CNN. MSNBC is a very biased source of news. I watch MSNBC just to gain some perspective on the Hollywood left version of the news. Also, BBC definitely provides a totally different international view.
—Dennis Kiriazides, retired
With so many types of media available, I find that I need to explore as many as possible to get the full picture. Newspapers and specialized periodicals provide the most in-depth information and have high credibility. However, network TV news and other TV news is important for up to date information that changes quickly. The Internet news sites also provide quickly updated information, with the capacity to do more searching for additional insight. The Sunday Times provides the widest ranging and greatest depth of reporting and analysis. We need them all, including the Daily Show and Steven Colbert to get a more humble assessment!
—Frank Orienter, Rochester
Most of my news is from National Public Radio, the paper version D&C, and online U.S. News & World Report. Multiple sources is always best. Sensationalist TV news is often biased and unimportant. It is designed to sell advertisements to the semi-literate masses. It’s frightening that too many news consumers tailor their news intake to match their political leaning.
—Tom Smith, Hemlock
Fox News is the only real major news source available to Americans. They report the news separately from opinion while ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and CNN inject too much fluff like, who’s winning “Dancing With the Stars” or tedious stories of the latest exploits of persons like Lindsay Lohan. All the ‘big five’ show a definite bias towards a liberal agenda, especially MSNBC. At least Fox News tries to be, as they say, “fair and balanced.” I use a wide variety of online sources of news too. I often visit the Drudge Report 2012 site because it reports a variety of news. Sure, Drudge may link you to the New York Times or even one of the “lamestream” media, but it is up to me if where I visit makes me gag; if it does, I return and find a site I can tolerate. ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and CNN also do our nation a disfavor; by concentrating on fluff, as I mentioned above, they keep people’s minds off of many things that may make people aware of the real news events that will affect them. They help provide the liberal left with what Joseph Stalin referred to as “useful idiots.” Also, Josef Goebbles would be very impressed by those news sources as they mimic the way he wanted news reported to the German people during Hitler’s reign. Hopefully Americans will wake up some day and realize that they are being misinformed and under-informed or simply ‘dumbed-down’ by useless fluff that will not enlighten them to the real events that effect their lives and livings every day.
—Michael F. Kloppel, chairman, the Ontario County Conservative Party, Canandaigua
In general, the mainline news corporations feel a need to favor the left and an extreme need to report it first, not accurate. They can retract it later or even blame some other reason, releasing the media from harm.
10/5/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.