Broadcast, Cable Journalists Get Middling Grades

Local and national broadcast and print journalists are concerned about the effects of staff cuts and bottom-line pressures on their profession. The rank and file generally see it as hurting coverage, while executives tend to say it is simply changing that coverage.

In addition, less than half of the local TV journalists (47%) polled gave favorable grades (A's or Bs) to their own profession. Their print counterparts were a lot tougher on local TV, however, with only 18% giving them A's and B's. The print types weren't much easier on the network news outlets, with 32% giving them As and B's.
The poll was conducted March 10 to April 20 among 547 national and local reporters, editors and executives by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, and the Committee of Concerned Journalists. Clearly, there was reason for those journalists to be concerned.

Of those who thought journalism in general was "on the wrong track," major criticisms were that it had become too soft on the Bush administration, doesn't tackle complex issues, is too concerned with fluff, and has become to commercialized.

Web reporting actually got higher marks from both national and local journalists that did broadcast and cable reporting, with 70% of national journalists giving A or B grades to major media Web sites, and 57% of local journaists giving them high marks.

Fox News Channel was the most conservative national news organization (with 69% of respondents volunteering it unprompted), and the most ideological by a wide margin. The New York Times was the most liberal, with 20% volunteering it unprompted.

Broadcast and print journalists differed markedly on what they thought were the upsides in journalism today. For print journalists, it was the quality of coverage and the watchdog role of the press. For broadcast and cable journalists, it was the speed of coverage and the ability to respond quickly to breaking stories.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.