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Lord, we pray for leaders to rise in news organizations who will humbly and confidently work to restore public trust in the media. May a free and fair press help our nation flourish.

Analysis. Reporters often highlight politicians’ favorability ratings. But are they paying attention to their own?

Have you taken your place on the wall?

 

Gallup recently released some striking numbers signaling plummeting confidence in the media, particularly newspapers and television news programs. Only 16 percent of U.S. adults said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers. For TV, the results were even worse: 11 percent. In fact, more than half of survey respondents said they had little or no confidence in TV news (while almost half said the same for newspapers).

The favorability numbers for these two forms of news media are both 5-point drops from last year and are all-time lows in trust numbers that have waned for decades. And while the favorables are particularly low among Republicans (5 percent) and Independents (12 percent), even among Democrats only 35 percent expressed significant confidence — a 10-point decline from 2 years ago.

“Although trust in the media in the U.S. has been scarce for many years, confidence ratings for newspapers and TV news have never been as low as they are now,” said Gallup’s Megan Brenan. “Taken together, these data suggest that the media has a long way to go to win back the public’s confidence.”

Of course, you might read those numbers and not really feel shocked. After all, how often have major outlets only told one side of a story about Israel? Or how often have they sidelined or unflatteringly covered pro-life (“anti-abortion rights”) voices while seeming to repeat Planned Parenthood’s talking points?  Or… name your issue.

Just a quick look at Twitter will show that many reporters have opinions that they’re eager to share. And — whether it’s our fault as readers or theirs as journalists — it can be difficult to discern where the fact-based reporting ends and the editorializing begins.

Now I should add that I am rooting for the press — a truly free and fair press. The First Amendment’s guarantee of media freedom is invaluable and our nation’s Founders knew it needed to be right up front in the Bill of Rights along with religion, speech, assembly, and petition. To keep our republic healthy, we citizens need a strong and independent press to keep a curious eye on even the most upstanding public officials regardless of political persuasion.

And I will give credit where it’s due to those in the media trying to restore public confidence. For example, as frustrating as the slant in its articles can be, I welcome this statement from the New York Times to its reporters after the fall of Roe: “If our journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom.”

But I am concerned that despite the alarming decline in trust identified by Gallup and other pollsters, too many in media are not taking a candid look at their channels and publications.  A case in point — one Politico journalist authored an editorial on Wednesday that conjectured that “perhaps the crisis in confidence Gallup has measured isn’t all of what it’s cracked up to be.”

“Could it be that newspapers are demonstrably worse than they were decades ago?… No, any honest assessment would find today’s newspapers more timely and accurate, fairer, and often better-written than the newspapers of 1979. So, what gives?” he asked,

I can’t readily evaluate that assertion, though I wonder if some seasoned journalists would take issue with it. What interests me more is that the Politico reporter suggests the decline in confidence could be explained as a wider problem of falling trust in societal institutions across the board, a “shoot the messenger” response to critical reporting about previously ignored matters, or even the fault of politicians’ brazen attacks.

I’ll grant that all of those matters are worth serious conversation. But he seems to be missing a truly key consideration. What if it’s not just someone else’s fault?  What if the press is actually shooting itself in the foot?

Some additional data posted by Pew Research helps us see that journalists tend to think of their work differently than the American public. While two-thirds of journalists think news organizations cover the most important stories, only 41 percent of U.S. adults think the same. And while nearly two-thirds of journalists think they’re reporting those stories accurately, only 35 percent of the public agrees. In addition, when asked if all sides of an issue should get equal coverage in the news, 76 percent of U.S. adults said “yes.” But 55 percent of U.S. journalists said “no.” The amount of “no’s” was even larger among reporters age 29 and younger (63 percent) and among those who say their employer leans left (60 percent).

Yes, reporters could push back. They do have a professional eye in this space, and they do have limitations as they work to present stories with excellence and efficiency. A fair reporter also needs breathing room to cut through spin and real misinformation. But unfortunately the use of of that breathing room is becoming more and more suspect to the population journalists serve. And that causes the “benefit-of-the-doubt” room for discretion to shrink.

Will you pray for the news media in our nation? There are many good journalists who want to serve their communities well. And our country needs a truly free press to flourish. Let’s pray for those in the profession who are committed to humbly and confidently restoring trust in their important institution.

What do you think of the media and the news? Share your thoughts and prayers below.

Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.s public policy arena. Photo Credit: Bank Phrom on Unsplash.

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Donn Dolce
July 25, 2022

Way to far left .. sad

Doris ,Ehlenfeldt
July 25, 2022

As intercessors we have been praying for God’s light to expose the dark areas of our government, society, justice system, etc.
We have begun our prayer times with Scripture and praise.
I agree with many of the comments.
My focus today is to give thanks for the news reporters (investigative & truthful), conservative commentators and bold Christians who speak, write and report truth with accuracy. They do this despite the Woke cancel culture’s attacks.

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Monte
July 23, 2022

Sadly, much of the media has become an instrument of Satan. They push progressive deceptions and fake propaganda, even outright lies and deception on a host of issues. This results in fear and confusion for our citizens. The climate change hoax is one example that has weakened our Nation. The suppression of the evidence on Hunter’s laptop and the rank corruption of the Biden family is another! These lies have had a huge negative impact on many gullible people. Psalm 1!

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    Jessica Renshaw
    July 24, 2022

    I agree. Journalism no longer holds to morally responsible standards of truth and professionalism. Let’s stop calling what the radical left is promoting “progressive.” “Progressive” means moving forward, advancing. It is not forward progress in our democratic republic to squelch, distort and punish free speech, to knowingly present only one side of issues (sometimes a fabricated one) and call it “news,” instead of opinion. Repression of facts and government censorship of a variety of views is not an advance or improvement, it’s regression to totalitarianism, which our Founding Fathers were trying to progress from!

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Barbara Janicki
July 23, 2022

It’s hard to trust media when “reporting” is so selective. We heard very little about the attempted Assassination on Kavanaugh – actually barely a mention and then nothing – we hear nothing about the southern border crisis or rampant crime in our cities – but we hear 24/7 about Jan. 6th -just as we heard 24/7 “Russia, Russia, Russia” – we are force fed select manufactured issues, while reality (crime, inflation, shortages, supply chain issues, energy dependence on our enemies, the truth about so many things) is totally ignored in our media. They believe if they don’t report it, it isn’t happening or isn’t real. Time for us to speak up, no matter how they attempt to silence us by calling us “conspiracy theorists speaking misinformation.” Seems like journalists who would report truth are silenced and fired. Only the official state narrative is tolerated. This became quite apparent during covid, I would think. Even now anyone who suggests the vaccine might be harmful is silenced. That should be a red flag right there. Prayers for those courageous enough to speak/write truth, for their protection and that they be allowed to do their job. I pray they would be an example to others to do their jobs with integrity and not to write what they know is false. If our press is not free – we cannot long remain free as a nation. http://www.mtothe5th.wordpress.com

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AWH
July 23, 2022

I pray that a MAJORITY of Americans would wake up and realize the truth about the far left and the mainstream media – not to be trusted and sent by evil. There are plenty of truthful news sources which are, of course, being bashed by the “mainstream minions.” Don’t listen to the minions!

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Shelly
July 23, 2022

Please Lord, God…give journalists discernment in what they report. All the American people want today is the TRUTH, and journalists find that hard to report.

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