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Trust Me, I’m from the Media

By billralston October 7th, 2009

OMG! New Zealanders don’t think much of the media! That’s according to a UMR poll just out.

The news media have a major credibility issue if the survey is right – and in my experience there’s no reason to doubt the figures.

Only 35% of us believe the media is accurate. In fact, a quarter of the people say it’s definitely inaccurate.

Worse, 30% think our radio, TV papers and magazines are biased or one-sided and only 27% of folk think the media will admit to its mistakes, while 46% are sure it would not fess up to a boo boo.

The most depressing thing in the poll is that most of the respondents held neutral opinions, they were not sure either way.

For an industry that relies on credibility to sell its product, it is shocking to find so many people think either the media consistently get it wrong or they aren’t sure whether the media is wrong or right in its reportage of the news.

Frankly those 25% who think the media is inaccurate in reporting the news are not cynics, they are realists. The majority, who are not sure whether the media is biased, wrong or stubborn in its refusal to admit mistakes, over time are more likely to join the ranks of the ‘realists’ than become believers in the Fourth Estate.

It is little wonder the Mainstream Media is collapsing into financial ruin when its principle currency, the public’s trust, is evaporating.

The MSM’s audience is drifting on-line where much of the reportage and commentary doesn’t pretend objectivity, it flaunts its bias and while it too can be inaccurate, I suspect most people believe the new media is more likely to admit its mistakes than the old media.

The poll results are proof the MSM has long neglected its audience and the price of cutting costs is becoming too expensive to bear. Newsrooms around the country are dramatically undermanned to the point where an insufficient numbers of journalists and subs are on the job.

Mistakes and inaccurate reporting are the result and the public are not fools, they can see errors when they occur.

Commercial pressure means tabloid trivialisation of news, which again undermines audience and reader respect and trust.

Despite tough times in the industry now is the time for publishers and broadcasters to reinvest in their product – if they don’t then their market will shrink even faster.

The problem the MSM faces is that the UMR poll shows around 37% of people are effectively wavering in trust and respect for their product.

Those people simply don’t know if the media is getting it right or not.

The chances are they may eventually come to the conclusion the media is not to be trusted.

Winning back people once they have become cynical is almost impossible.

Media companies here better heed the warning and improve their act before they lose that vital 37% of their customer base once and for all.

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