Three media-related stories of note for Friday, March 1, 2013:
The exhaustive dispute between Google and Germany reached the end of another chapter Friday when legislation was finalized to bring about a compromise on the degree of information the search engine could reveal. Google will be permitted to show snippets. Publishers had been arguing that Google should pay fees to produce those results. Spiegel Online reports
that the permitted length of these snippets is still unclear.
Keith Somerville, a senior research fellow at the Commonwealth Institute and veteran journalist, provides a primer in Mmegi Online
on the framing of two recent African stories to fit Western perceptions. He examines the South African Crime frame to discuss the Oscar Pistorius case and the War on Terror frame to discuss violence in Mali, and he notes how both suit the Western audiences but only tell small parts of the stories. While frames are not necessarily wrong, he says, journalists need to provide more context to help readers understand what led to the events.
A new survey from Rasmussen Reports
discusses American sources of news and finds that cable TV ranks first (32 per cent use it). But the major change is in the rise of the Internet (25 per cent) over network television (24). Newspapers (10) and radio (7) were well back. Trust among all was quite low. While 56 per cent found media somewhat trustworthy, only six per cent found them quite trustworthy.
Media stories of note for Tuesday:
The British Information Commissioner has expressed concerns
about the potential impact of recommendations of the Leveson inquiry into journalism. The Guardian reports Christopher Graham is particularly worried about a proposal to permit those covered by the press to have access to information journalists hold about them, a move he says would have a "chilling" effect on investigative work. He also believes the inquiry's recommendations reshape his office in a manner that borders on that of a press regulator.
Steve Hermann, the editor of the BBC News website, outlines for the Journalism.co.uk site
a range of essential skills for the emerging journalist: traditional curiosity and legal understanding, speed and accuracy, visual storytelling, social media and an appreciation of data.
Joyce Wadler, a reporter for The New York Times, writes for the Silurian News (reprinted here
by the Columbian Journalism Review) on the importance of building trust as a journalist.
The Gallup organization said Friday
that U.S. media distrust has reached a new high --- or, put another way, media trust has reached a new low.
Some 60 per cent of Americans surveyed said they had little or no trust in the mass media to report accurately, fairly or fully. There has been a slow rate of growth in the level of distrust in the last decade from a rate in the mid- to high-forties. Trust in the media was more positive than negative until 2004.
Gallup notes the pattern in presidential election years for media distrust to peak. Republicans most distrust the media, but more than half of Independents do, too. Democrats are more trusting. While Americans pay more attention to political news in an election year, Gallup notes they are paying less attention in 2012 than they did in 2008.
The poll was conducted in early September.
"On a broad level, Americans' high level of distrust in the media poses a challenge to democracy and to creating a fully engaged citizenry," Gallup concludes. "Media sources must clearly do more to earn the trust of Americans, the majority of whom see the media as biased one way or the other. At the same time, there is an opportunity for others outside the 'mass media' to serve as information sources that Americans do trust."Romenesko.com has a strong analysis of the findings here.
A new study published in the academic Communications Quarterly
suggests people believe information on Twitter is not as credible as information on websites.
The study asked people to view New York Times content in a Tweet, in a short story and in a longer story and to assess their credibility. Even though the content was the same, people preferred the website content over the Tweets as more important and credible.
The report authors, Penn State communications professor Michael Schmierbach and marketing strategist Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch counsel caution in the findings. Early, active users of Twitter likely have higher regard for it than do recent users.
Still, they note: "At an applied level, the study suggests the need for caution in the use of Twitter as a way to distribute news."
The Poynter Institute's Jeff Sonderman notes
that the findings might be important in the context of the Times' paywall and the effectiveness of deriving news from Tweets to get around it.
A new Gallup poll
indicates American confidence in television news has reached an all-time low. Trust in newspapers is not as bad, but not much better.
The poll suggests only 21 per cent of Americans have confidence in television news, one point below last year's finding and down 25 points from Gallup's original research in 1963. Confidence in newspapers dropped to 25 per cent this year, down from 28 per cent last year and half of the 50-per-cent confidence rate of 1980.
Interestingly, those who identify themselves as liberals were among those whose confidence most declined, rivaling low-confidence levels by those who identify themselves as conservatives.
Gallup could not conclude why television news confidence dropped as it did, but noted the poll was taken before recent cable news mishaps involving the Supreme Court decision on health care legislation --- meaning, the results might even be lower today.
Gallup suggests all networks "will have to renew their efforts to show Americans that they deserve a higher level of confidence than what they enjoy today."
Among the 16 institutions Gallup studied
, confidence in newspapers ranked tenth and television news eleventh. The military, small business, the police, organized religion, the medical system, the presidency, the Supreme Court, public schools and the justice system ranked ahead of them. Only organized labour, banks, big business, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and Congress ranked lower.
A new report
from the Pew Center for People and the Press suggests significant problems in public trust of the press in the United States. On nine of 12 negative indices studied since 1985, the survey of trust showed all-time marks.
That being said, the press remains more trusted as a source of information than are such other institutions as government and business.
The report found people trust their local sources of information more than they do national sources, and it suggested that the national perceptions were skewed by negative views about all-news cable television.
"Fully 66% say news stories often are inaccurate, 77% think that news organizations tend to favor one side, and 80% say news organizations are often influenced by powerful people and organizations," Pew said in summarizing the study
. "As recently as four years ago, 39% said news organizations mostly get the facts straight and 53% said stories are often inaccurate."
Then again, when asked about their own news sources, Americans were far more kind. Some 62 per cent said their sources were accurate and only 30 per cent said the stories were often inaccurate.
Among the other findings in the poll of 1,501 Americans in July: television remains the prime information source; nearly one-quarter now get news from social media; people want their press to be non-political; most believe news organizations have professional intentions; equal numbers say the press helps and hurts democracy; and most support its watchdog role.
Hardly surprising but worth chronicling: A new United Kingdom study
has found a decline in public trust of the broadsheet and tabloid press.With the extent of the phone-hacking scandal much more evident, the poll suggested that only five per cent of Britons trust the tabloid journalists, while 41 per cent trust the broadsheet journalists. That level is
down from seven per cent and 54 per cent, respectively, last November.The YouGov survey for the University of Nottingham found that trust in British members of Parliament rose in the same period to 24 per cent from 17 per cent.
Earlier today, a Twitter hoax spread that CNN host Piers Morgan had been suspended pending an investigation of his involvement in the phone-hacking scandal. Some journalists reTweeted before one journalist determined the information was untrue. (Martin Bryant of TheNextWeb chronicles the episode
Reuters blogger Felix Salmon says this should not be a cause for deep concern
. Twitter is the "new newsroom," he writes, where people can raise rumours and have them shot down, "no harm no foul." Just as journalists pass around gossip in a newsroom, he says Twitter can serve as a similar environment.
Salmon believes that the big accounts of organizations ought to be held to higher standards. "But for the rest of us, we’re conversing on Twitter just like we converse in real life," he says.
"People are human, they believe rumours, make mistakes, jump to conclusions. Twitter is just a healthy reminder of that fact," he concludes.
What do you think?
The new annual Gallup poll
on institutional trust suggests U.S. media are regaining (albeit slightly) the ground lost.Its poll of trust in newspapers and television found growth after years of all-time lows. Some 28% said they had a great deal or quite a lot of trust in newspapers and 27% said the same about television.That number, though, lags considerably behind numbers as recent as 2003.The biggest gains in approval came from 35- to 49-year-olds. Younger Americans expressed greater trust in television and less trust in newspapers.
While Gallup says the new numbers are good indicators, it points to the volatility of young trust as a precursor of possible difficulties.
Newspapers and TV ranked 10th and 11th of the 16 institutions assessed.
Scott Rosenberg, the media critic and co-founder of Salon,
writes in the PBS MediaShift Idea Lab
that newsrooms have a credibility issue they can address. He notes that about half of all stories contain errors but only about three per cent of them are corrected.
He has some basic prescriptions to restore and redevelop trust:
1. Link out. Let people see what you've researched.
2. Show your work and let it be iterative.
3. Let people help you identify and fix mistakes.
Rosenberg says four problems beset newsrooms in grappling with their shortcomings: tools and workflows aren't up to the task, there is denial and avoidance, readers are seen as adversaries, and the business is obsessed with the business.
How do you think media can more effectively deal with errors?