Some Republicans, including former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson, have griped about the fairness and balance of public broadcasting's news, but according to a new study, it is the most trusted in the land, topping Fox News Channel, CNN, the broadcast network news operations and major newspapers.
A vast majority of those polled also say the government should require TV stations to identify packaged video news releases (VNRs).
A Harris telephone survey commissioned by the Public Relations Society of America and released Thursday found that 61% of the general public generally trusted news on PBS and NPR, while 56% trusted papers like the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or New York Times, and 53% trusted the commercial broadcast and cable news operations.
That "trust" category was a combination of three, actually: "trust," "trust completely" and "trust somewhat". Nobody got high numbers for "trust completely," with newspapers topping that category at 13%, followed by noncommercial news at 10% and commercial news at only 4%.
Toward the bottom of the trust list were conservative radio talk show hosts at 35%, followed by liberal talk radio hosts at 31%.
Least trusted were ad execs at 25%.
A majority (54%) said they did not rely on blogs or internet chat rooms for their news and information.
On the issue of video news releases, 71% of the general public said that the gorvernment should be required to identify themselves as the source of the releases.
The survey also polled a sample of Fortune 1000 executives and congressional staffers, though the 8% error factor either way makes calling winners among those somewhat problematic. With that caveat:
The most trusted news source for both execs and Hill staffers was newspapers at 78%, followed by noncom news (75% for execs, 70% for staffers) followed by commercial broadcast and cable news at 62% for staffers, 59% for execs.
On the VNR question, 89% of executives and 87% of the staffers said TV stations should be required by law to identify them.
While 11% of the execs completely trusted NPR and PBS news, only 2% said the same for commercial news operations. Staffers were even more trusting of noncom news at 18% completely trusting, and slightly more for commercial news at 5%.
Elected officials only got a 38% trust rating from the general public, and a 31% rating from the executives. Not surprisingly, they got higher marks from their staffers. But, still, only a little over a half (53%) said they trusted their bosses.
Public relations professionals got a 37% trust rating from the general public and a 29% rating from both execs and staffers.
A whopping 79% of Fortune 1000 execs and 70% of staffers said they did not get their news and information from blogs or chat rooms.
Following is the methodology, taken straight from the Harris folks:
Harris Interactive conducted the telephone survey, jointly developed with the PRSA Foundation, between June 7 and 12, 2005 among a nationwide cross section of 1,015 U.S. adults ages 18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race, education, number of adults, number of voice/telephone lines in the household, region and size of place were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results for the overall sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult population had been polled with complete accuracy.
Harris Interactive conducted this survey, jointly developed with the PRSA Foundation, using its Executive Omnibus™, a nationwide telephone survey of 150 leading executives in Fortune 1000 companies. The survey was conducted between June 10 and July 14, 2005. Executives from a broad range of industries, services, locales, and sizes of companies were interviewed. Data from this sample are not weighted and are representative only of the body of individuals surveyed. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results for the overall sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 8 percentage points.
Congressional StaffersHarris Interactive conducted this survey, jointly developed with the PRSA Foundation, using its Congressional OmnibusTM, a unique bipartisan survey which provides an in-depth, scientific analysis of what Congress thinks. From among Hill offices, 150 senior staff members and aides were interviewed via telephone and stratified according to party, chamber, years in office, and title. The survey was conducted between June 7 and August 17, 2005. Data from this sample are not weighted and are representative only of the body of individuals surveyed. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results for the overall sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 8 percentage points.
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.
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