Trylon Communications  - November 2005

News You Can Use

A recent survey done by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and market research firm Harris Interactive, refutes the popular conceptions about how much people value news today – and where they get it from.

The national survey, titled Executive, Congressional and Consumer Attitudes Toward Media, Marketing and the Public Relations Profession, compares attitudes and opinions about media, marketing and public relations among adult American consumers, Fortune 1000 executives, and congressional staffers.

A clear majority of each of these groups stated that they are interested in the news and that they tend to trust traditional news outlets. This is in contrast to a prevailing opinion that most people are less interested in the news today and are seeking alternative sources for their information.

According to most of the respondents, the most trusted news outlets are the traditional ones – public radio and television programming, newspapers and broadcast news shows. A large majority (61% to 75%) said that they trust public TV and NPR, while 56% to 78% stated that they trust papers like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Washington Post. While the majority trust these types of sources, only a minority believe the reports to be unbiased and accurate.

The least-trusted information sources, among these groups, include celebrities endorsing a product or a cause, conservative and liberal talk show hosts, and people who work in the advertising industry.

In the middle are advocacy groups, pollsters and government officials. Interestingly, only a small majority (53%) of congressional staffers said that they somewhat or completely trust government officials.

As Judith Phair, president and CEO of PRSA, stated, "It's easy to read the headlines in trade and business press about all of the hot 'new' media channels and start to believe that the traditional press is passé, but this survey confirms that despite some new entrants, Americans still use news, seek news and place their trust in the traditional sources."