Annenberg survey probes public's knowledge of journalists

NEW YORK: A new survey shows that nearly as many Americans recognize Rush Limbaugh as a journalist as those who recognize Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward as such.

NEW YORK: A new survey shows that nearly as many Americans recognize Rush Limbaugh as a journalist as those who recognize Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward as such.

Conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the survey questioned 1500 adults from March 7 to May 2, well before Woodward?s name was in the headlines again with news of Deep Throat?s identity.

The survey also showed that 40% of the respondents identified Fox News host Bill O?Reilly as a journalist.

But Michael Robinson, VP, Levick Strategic Communications, said that the most interesting number was that 18% didn?t know if Limbaugh was a journalist as opposed to 53% for Woodward.

?What it tells me is that notoriety is more important than anything else right now,? he said. ?It?s more important to go to those individuals who have higher recognition. It is less important if that person is considered a journalist.?

Others said the survey results once again showed that traditional media has not done a good job of explaining itself.

Lloyd Trufelman, president of Trylon Communications, said the survey also shows urgent need for journalism organizations to start branding themselves.

?If the journalism industry wants to make a differentiation between journalism and a talk show host, they can?t count on the public to know those differences,? he said. ?They have to start doing something.?

Bob Sommer, EVP of MWW Group, says recent pay-to-play scandals involving journalists have blurred the line between reporting and commentary.

?It?s not the public?s job to distinguish between those,? he said. ?This is about the profession doing a better job of setting standards and making sure those in the industry follow those standards.?

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