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Friday, 14 August 2020 21:14

American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy

Index

Majorities of Americans say noews organizations should diversify their reporting staffs, but they differ---largely by politics---on the focus of diversity efforts.

 

  • A strong majority of Americans (79%) say news organizations should hire to increase the diversity of their reporting staffs. However, while majorities say it is important for the news media to reflect the diversity of America, this ranks lowest of the priorities among the roles for media to play in society.
  • The priorities cited by Americans who say news organizations should hire for more diversity differ greatly by race and political party. Democrats (49%) and Blacks (60%) prioritize racial/ethnic diversity in hiring, while Republicans (51%) and whites (35%) are most apt to prioritize diversity in political views.

 

Americans commonly feel overwhelmed by the volume and speed of news, but say misinformation is media's greatest problem. Those overwhelmed are most likely to turn to one or two trusted news sources as a solution.

 

  • Four in five Americans (78%) say the spread of misinformation online is “a major problem,” exceeding all other challenges posed by the media environment.
  • Seventy-three percent of Americans want to see major internet companies find ways to exclude false/hateful information online.
  • More Americans say it is harder (62%) rather than easier (36%) to be well-informed because of all the sources of information available. In 2017, 58% said it was harder to be informed.
  • Reasons Americans who say it is harder to stay informed cite for feeling overwhelmed include the mix of news interspersed with non-news on the web (72%), followed by the pace or speed of news reporting (63%) and the increased number of organizations reporting the news (63%).
  • More Americans (54%) say there are enough media sources to sort out the facts than say there is so much bias it’s difficult to sort out the facts (43%), an improvement from 2017 when the split was 50% to 47%, respectively. Republicans (65%) are much more likely than independents (48%) and Democrats (21%) to say there is too much bias to sort out the facts.
  • In response to feeling overwhelmed, 41% of Americans say they only pay attention to one or two trusted sources; 31% try to consult a variety of sources to see where they agree; 17% go to the extreme of ceasing to pay attention to news altogether; and 8% rely on others to help them sort out what they need to know.

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