Two recent studies have sketched a developing enmity between the public and journalists from both sides of the wrangle. A paper published earlier this month from The Committee to Protect Journalists revealed that 90% of digital reporters occasion online harassment as the biggest impediment in their profession. Much of the harassment cited revolved around violent threats and unsolicited sexual advances.
Now, a new study from the Pew Research Center posits that 66% of American adults believe that journalists act unethically “some or all of the time” and are rarely held accountable following instances of bias and objective errors. More respondents felt this way about members of the press than they did about the police and the military — two institutions historically linked to pedestrian cynicism.
“The survey shows that beyond the realms of ethics and transparency, Americans have varying levels of confidence in key aspects of job performance by those who hold important positions of power and responsibility,” said Pew in a statement on the back of the findings.
Eight positions were featured in the study, each of which were surveyed by respondents with the following prerequisites in mind: level of empathy, adequacy in performing a specific part of their job, stewardship of resources, ability to provide fair and accurate information to their constituent, willingness to admit mistakes and take responsibility for them, frequency with which they behave unethically and frequency with which they face serious consequences when they act unethically.
Pyrrhonism has come into fashion by reason of several key cultural shifts. As technology makes information more attainable, it simultaneously neuters the authority attached to “experts” of every field in the mind of the layman. Similarly, there are certain characteristics of the current political landscape that encourages the sleep with one eye open motif. Both of these perverse trust in their own ways, irrespective of affiliation. Some were less likely to believe that journalists perform key parts of their job “all or most of the time” or even some of the time but express confidence in military leaders while others were more likely to believe that the press covers things fairly but significantly less likely to lend a handsome word to military leaders.
Eighty-one percent of participants expressed skepticism about members of congress (though women were more likely than men to poll this way), and 69% shared mistrust in religious leaders. What seemed to vex the pool the most reliably was a lack of accountability across several positions of power.
The surveyees additionally lamented a dearth of empathy, openness, and integrity in places where it should be the most abundant. Tech leaders seemed to attract a certain bipartisan dissension. Forty-one percent of adults believe that tech firms “care about people” only some of the time.
“Public trust in leaders and those who have jobs that give them power and responsibility can apply to various aspects of their role in national and community life. Not only can people express broad views about their overall trust in leaders, they also can ponder questions about the distinct attributes that underlie elements of trust,” the authors wrote.