PEW study reveals fascinating, possibly contrasting opinions

Online news consumers are less trusting of online news than off.
Online news consumers are less trusting of online news than off.

A new PEW study is upending the way we think about the public’s view of journalism, at least for me. I was a little shocked to here that a majority of people surveyed believed that journalists are more important that they used to be, mostly because they help sort through overwhelming amounts of information. In an ideal journalism world that is true. The statistic made me want to immediately fist pump because finally at least 58% of people get it. They understand the value in my area of study. Sure the internet has provided us with a large amount of readily available information, more than ever before, but there is so much that someone has to sort through it and see what is valuable accurate. Journalists do that. Sometimes.

More shocking to me was the contrast between increase in young people viewing the media as a watchdog and the majority belief of online news consumers that online news is more biased than offline. The Poynter article I read about this study highlights that “the internet is now the main source for national and international news for those under the age of 50.” The correlation that seems apparent is that young people use online news the most but trust it the least (despite the fact that overall, they thing media corporations are valuable watchdogs). Granted this assumption is a stretch with just the information available, but it’s an interesting concept in the light of recent news in journalism production.

Everyone has pretty much become accustomed to the fact that journalism is working it’s way to become mostly an online endeavor now. That is how it will survive, if it does. Amazon guru Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post after all, a move that suggests that the post will be focusing on online production more than ever.  The first statistic is encouraging for the value in online professional journalism rather than citizen journalism, but the second idea is confusing. Online journalism still lacks credibility compared to more traditional forms of journalism. SAY WHAT?

It’s clear that online journalism needs to work out some kinks. Granted it’s needed to do so for many years now. But the PEW Research Center, as always, has provided a lot of food for thought about where journalism is going and how people are perceiving it.

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