Posted in Industry Insights

What do Americans want from journalism?

, by Lauren Easton

A new study by the Media Insight Project, a joint effort by the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, offers a revealing look at the disconnect between what Americans want in their news and what journalists view as their core mission.

The survey of 2,700 people finds that most Americans do not share key journalism values of transparency, holding the powerful to account, giving voice to the voiceless, and spotlighting problems.

The research also revealed that two-thirds of respondents support the value of fact-finding, and that news consumers want journalism that highlights good news and what’s working in society — not just what isn’t. The study shows that Americans want journalists to go beyond their watchdog role.

Photojournalists gather outside the White House in Washington, Nov. 4, 2020. A new study of people's attitudes toward the press finds that Americans want their journalists to be more than watchdogs. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The study has implications for the news business. It outlines ways news organizations can bridge the gap with the American public and build trust, including by broadening the moral appeal of stories and by reframing how news outlets describe their work.

“This study provides a fresh perspective for journalists to help us understand what’s driving the gap in trust,” said Emily Swanson, AP’s director of public opinion research. “Just as significantly, it helps us take a step toward solving that problem by making sure we speak to the range of values that Americans find most important.”

The full report is available online.

Read the AP news story.