Public's opinion of media low since NY Times scandal

WASHINGTON - A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that the public's opinion toward the press has gone largely unchanged since the Jayson Blair episode at The New York Times.

But this isn't something for journalists to be happy about. The story's lack of effect on public opinion is a reflection of the American public's long-held low expectations of journalists. More than half of the 1,201 adults polled this summer for the survey said that the media misreports stories, and 62% said that the press tries to cover up its mistakes. Fifty-eight percent think the media makes up news stories.

These figures are practically identical to previous years' findings, which, except for the study conducted after the terrorist attacks of 2001, have been grim assessments of the public's faith in the press.

The poll found that people who followed closely the story of Blair, the young reporter who in his short career at The New York Times falsified dozens of stories, didn't change their opinions of the media. The discovery of Blair's misdeeds became a national news story, and led to the resignation of the newspaper's top editors.

"People think that journalists make up stories all the time, but that's because of a long-term cynical attitude toward the media," explained Carroll Doherty, editor at the Pew Research Center.

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