Hat Tip to Balkinization
The Pew Research Center has issued a new study that says the more poeple believe the media to be less credible, yet at the same time still like their media sources. Daniel Solove has a good post over at Balkinization about the study, noting
What conclusions can be drawn from these trends? One conclusion is an ominous one -- that the public doesn't use credibility as a major factor in analyzing media performance. After all, if the media still receives high favorability ratings in spite of declining credibility, then this shows that credibility is not tied much to favorability. Shouldn't there be a better connection? It would seem to me that credibility is a critical component of what the media should be all about. People should expect credibility, and if they're not getting it, they should not still be liking the media.
Another conclusion is an optimistic one. Perhaps this means that the public is watching the news with a healthier skepticism; people are less willing to take whatever is reported in the news as the truth. And a healthy skepticism is a good thing, right? To some extent, yes, but what if this skepticism increasingly means that people are just dismissing facts that run against their ideologies and partisan interests?
Actually, while Solove may be right, the results could be reflective of a more basic phenomenon. Similar to the way most people don't like Congress, but love their Representative, I think people dislike the media as an entity, but love their personal media outlets. People like the hometown newspaper or their hometown newscast, but distrust national outlets.
Part of this may be reflective of the more homogeneous nature of hometown news outlets. In smaller towns and cities, more of a connection exists between the reporters and their subjects than exists in large national media outlets. I think Solove is in that more people have a health skepticism about media representations, but the notion "that people are just dismissing facts that run against their ideologies and partisan interests" may be overstating the case. There has always been a dismissal of ideas and interpretations that run counter to one's ideology, but rarely do people dismiss facts out of hand because they don't like them--so long as they are facts.