A new Roy Morgan survey has revealed that a glib generalised scepticism continues to dominate public attitudes to the media.

According to the latest Roy Morgan End of Year survey, three-quarters (74%, up 3% in 12 months) of Australians agree that “media organisations are more interested in making money than in informing society”, 71% (up 4%) agree that “the media is not objective enough,” 63% (up 7%) agree that “the media is too close to politicians” and in an indictment of journalistic ethics in this country 59% “don’t trust journalists to tell the truth”. Eighty-three per cent (up 5%) of Australians agree that they “want more in-depth analysis of the news, not just headlines”.

You can read the full survey here.

Of course there are cases in which this hostile view is entirely warranted — Today Tonight’s brave efforts to rescue Wa Wa from cannibals springs to mind — but is the media getting worse, or is this reflexive scepticism towards journalism really just another way of not having to wrestle with the complex detail of what the media serves up?

Here’s an unfashionable counter-view – most journalists I’ve worked with are dedicated, care deeply about what they do, and are mortified when they get it wrong. In my experience the myth of the hard-drinking, lazy and cynical hack is just that.

If these anti-media feelings run as deep as the Morgan Survey suggest then the media has a real problem. But I doubt it. Where were all these sceptics about media power and commercialism when we were debating the horrendous implications for democracy in this country of the latest round of cross media laws?

The media in Australia does have faults that need to be addressed but pulling on a hair shirt every year isn’t the best way to go about it.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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