Pew Poll: 27 Percent Say Journalists Contribute Little or Nothing to Society

The latest numbers from the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life find that the military are still highly esteemed by the American public. More than three-quarters of U.S. adults (78 percent) agreed that employees of the armed services contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being. That’s a modest decline from 84 percent years ago,

Not so for journalists.  About as many U.S. adults now say journalists contribute “not very much” or “nothing at all” to society (27 percent) as say they contribute a lot (28 percent). Compared with the ratings four years ago, journalists have dropped the most in public esteem:

The share of the public saying that journalists contribute a lot to society is down 10 percentage points, from 38 percent in 2009 to 28 percent in 2013.  The drop is particularly pronounced among women (down 17 points)...

The decline in public views about journalists’ contribution to society since 2009 is more pronounced among women than men. Roughly three-in-ten women (29%) say journalists contribute a lot to society’s well-being, down 17 percentage points from 46% in 2009. Men’s views on this are about the same today as they were in 2009.

The decline in the perceived contribution of journalists cuts across partisan leanings, age and education level. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents as well as Republicans and Republican-leaning independents all are less likely to say journalists contribute a lot to society’s well-being today (down 8 points among Republicans/leaning Republicans and 10 points among Democrats/leaning Democrats).

It could be a tricky business -- that the stories that most move the ratings needle, like murder trials, are exactly the kinds of stories that could make the general public skeptical that the media have much to contribute to society.

As for the religion part, just 37 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew think the clergy make a big contribution to society, about the same as in 2009. "Regular churchgoers tend to be more positive about ministers, priests and other clergy members."

But even among adults who say they attend religious services at least once a week, only 52 percent said clergy offer “a lot” to society, while 29 percent said the clergy make “some” contribution, and 11 percent picked “not very much” or “nothing at all.”

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