We hate ‘The Media,’ but we love the media we choose

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Among journalists, last week’s news that public trust in the media has fallen to an all-time low was accompanied by the wringing of hands, the gnashing of teeth, and the rending of garments.

According to Gallup, just 32 percent of Americans surveyed in early September believe that the media “report the news fully, fairly and accurately.” That’s down from 40 percent just last year—and from 55 percent in 1999, when newspapers were profitable, the Big Three networks newscasts were inviolable, and the cable news networks had not yet hit upon partisan shoutfests as a formula for filling hours of airtime at very little expense.

Gallup’s findings, which we talked about last Friday on Beat the Press, are serious and disturbing for a craft that relies on credibility. At the same time, though, there’s less here than meets the eye.

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org. And talk about this post on Facebook.

Moving on up

Tracking polls are notoriously unreliable, but the Gallup trend is clear:

  • Aug. 23-25: McCain, 46 percent; Obama, 44 percent. Gallup’s take: “It’s official: Barack Obama has received no bounce in voter support out of his selection of Sen. Joe Biden to be his vice presidential running mate.”
  • Aug. 24-26: Obama, 45 percent; McCain, 44 percent. Gallup’s take: “No major change in structure of race, though Obama is doing slightly better.”
  • Aug. 25-27: Obama, 48 percent; McCain, 42 percent. Gallup’s take: “Democratic candidate gains in Monday through Wednesday interviewing.”

If these numbers are right, then it shows that all the media’s hyperventilating about the convention’s not being attack-oriented enough and the Clintons’ stealing the spotlight from Obama is bunk.

The latest figures don’t even capture voter reaction to Bill Clinton’s, John Kerry’s, and Joe Biden’s speeches, not to mention Obama’s cameo at the end of the night. And Gallup’s numbers won’t include Obama’s own speech until Saturday.

What does this mean? It looks like Obama is going to receive a normal convention bounce. And unless McCain and the Republicans utterly blow it next week, we’ll be back to a tied race when both conventions are over.

We’d all be better off watching C-SPAN.