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Pew Research Center’s Report Finds That Most Americans Say That Tensions Between Trump’s Administration & News Media Hinder Access To Political News – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jeffrey Gottfried, Senior Researcher…

April 4, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Update…

“I think what the findings of our study reveal is that the public does sense that there is a problem. That they see the relationship that’s going on between the Trump administration and between the U.S. news media as a problem, both in terms of creating an unhealthy relationship between those two parties, but also in terms of, they sense that they’re not getting the information, the important political news that they would be getting otherwise. And so, there is this sense that there is a problem with the way that this relationship is going.” Jeffrey Gottfried…

Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey and found that large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans say the relationship between the Trump administration and the news media is an unhealthy one. The focus of this study shows how amazing it is that almost 94 percent of Americans are aware of this debilitating relationship. And if you piggyback that with the research the Pew Center did in 2016, where 75 percent of Americans felt that the media tended to support one side more than the other; if you take both of those surveys together, you can’t help but to stop and think what is the future of journalism?

As a journalism professor; as an educator; I have to wonder what is the future of journalism and what prescriptions do we need to heal this unhealthiness between the media and the present administration, so that the public will have more access to political news, as they now feel they don’t have free and open access to political information?

With everything that’s going on in the world, it seems like it’s all being muddied by this unhealthy relationship.

These are not the opinions of myself or Mr. Gottfried, these are the actual findings of the report from the American people. And this morning, I spoke with Jeffrey Gottfried, senior researcher and one of the report’s lead authors about the actual findings of the study. What follows is that conversation:

Samir Husni: Did anything about this study surprise you?

Jeffrey Gottfried: Something that was really interesting about this was the high level of awareness that American’s had of the relationship between Trump and the news media. What we see is that this really is virtually ubiquitous of America. Everyone seems to have heard about it and everyone seems to know what’s going on. As it says, 94 percent of U.S. citizens have heard something about what’s going on.

What we found is that for a large majority of Americans, what they have seen does not reassure them. And that’s something that we found to be really interesting.

Samir Husni: I noticed that you didn’t ask about who shares the blame in all of this.

Jeffrey Gottfried: Right, this is something that we didn’t ask as part of our survey. The survey was really to get a sense of how and where people are, and to get a sense of whether they thought this was a problem or not. So, no, we did not ask in the survey who is to blame for these tensions.

Samir Husni: As a researcher; as someone who has done a lot of surveys and research, where do you think we’re heading, in terms of the journalism aspect? Are we on the right or wrong track? If the public is saying that this is hindering the access to political news; what is the future of journalism?

Jeffrey Gottfried: Your question may go a little beyond what we were after, but I think what the findings of our study reveal is that the public does sense that there is a problem. That they see the relationship that’s going on between the Trump administration and between the U.S. news media as a problem, both in terms of creating an unhealthy relationship between those two parties, but also in terms of, they sense that they’re not getting the information, the important political news that they would be getting otherwise. And so, there is this sense that there is a problem with the way that this relationship is going.

Samir Husni: During all of the research that you’ve done over the years, have you ever seen anything like this before?

Jeffrey Gottfried: We haven’t been able to ask this question before.

Samir Husni: Is it because we never had such a problem?

Jeffrey Gottfried: We’ve seen throughout the campaign that there were these tensions, and from the campaign itself through now, we do see many tensions that are going on and we felt that this was a really important question when it came to trying to understand what their relationship is and what the public thinks about it. Whether that people think there were tensions in previous administrations or not, we don’t really have that data point to be able to compare that. But it was because we did see these tensions manifesting themselves, so we wanted to get a sense of whether the public was actually feeing them or not.

Samir Husni: My concern, since I am also a professor of journalism, as well as being a magazine person, are you concerned about the future of journalism? I teach an Intro to Mass Communications class of 184 students, and when I asked them who they thought was more biased, President Trump or the news media, 134 of them said news media.

Jeffrey Gottfried: Again, that goes a bit beyond our study. But I think that our findings do sense that the, and I don’t want to speak to my concerns, I want to speak to the public’s concerns, but the public seems to be concerned. They seem to be thinking that what’s going on between the media and the Trump administration is unhealthy. They seem to sense that they’re not getting the information that they should be getting. So, the public has concerns, and I think that’s what’s really important here and that’s what we were trying to go after here. Does the public sense that there is a problem? And we see that overwhelmingly, a vast majority of Americans do sense that there is a problem. And that’s what we were really going after with this report.

Last year in another survey, we asked the extent to which people sense that the news media tend to favor one side or not. In 2016, about three-quarters of Americans overall, sensed that the news media overall do tend to favor one side. What side that is, we didn’t ask, but there is this overall sense among Americans that the news media do favor one side or another. In that case, we didn’t ask who do they favor and who is more biased, presidents or the media, but there is this overall sense, at least in 2016, that the media tend to favor one side.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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