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Poll shows distrust in newspapers

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Greg Peck
June 19, 2013

I’ve been a full-time Wisconsin journalist for 34 years and have worked for three Wisconsin newspapers. I’ve been at The Gazette more than 25 years. Newspaper work was my career choice, and that’s why a new Gallup poll is so disheartening.

As Poynter.org detailed, that Gallup poll suggests just 23 percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers. That’s the same percentage that trusts TV news.

It was sad to note that the high mark for trust in newspapers came in at 51 percent in 1979—the year I graduated with a journalism degree from UW-Oshkosh and went to work as a sports writer for the Oconomowoc Enterprise.

I’m wondering how much the bashing of the so-called “Mainstream Media” by conservative talking heads and other critics who claim we have a liberal bias plays a role in this poll’s results. Are local newspapers such as The Gazette getting caught in the same net of criticism?

Many or most most journalists are compassionate people, and many lean Democratic. Yet those I’ve worked with through the years also understand they must set aside their biases and report both sides of issues.

On the other hand, many newspaper companies have conservative managers and owners. Perhaps that’s why critics can suggest we’re too liberal and too conservative at the same time—and their criticism depends largely on their own points of view.

Perhaps we journalists should take heart that the poll suggests people have more confidence in us than they have in big business, organized labor, health maintenance organizations and Congress.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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