Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Large Majority of Americans are Worried About Global Warming

A new poll by the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy finds that 83 percent of Americans consider global warming to be a “serious problem” —up from 70 percent in 2004. Eighty-one percent agree with the following statement: “It is my responsibility to help reduce the impacts of global warming.” And nearly two thirds say that new laws are needed to increase energy efficiency.

Some bad news for environmental journalism here: Just 45 percent of Americans say they trust newspapers as a source of environmental information — down from two-thirds in 2004. Twenty-seven percent say they don't trust major newspapers one iota. Nightly television news also has declined significantly in its perceived trustworthiness on environmental news.

Why is journalism taking such a hit in audience confidence? This week's cover in Time magazine suggests part of the answer. In a reprise of the O.J. Simpson cover debacle (in which Simpson's photo was electronically doctored to make him look more sinister), Time's editors decided to run a bogus picture of Ronald Reagan crying. The problem is that Reagan wasn't crying; the tear on his cheek is a Photoshop facsimile. Check it out in the posting below.

-- Tom Yulsman


HL said...

I am not surprised about those poll results. Based on my experience, reporters are actually prevented from giving readers the information they need. I recently wrote a story about an adoption bill, which included a quote from an opponent to the effect that research shows that a child can be harmed if raised by cohabitating parents as opposed to married parents. The research does, in fact, bear out that assertion, which is not controversial as an academic matter. Yet my editor struck the paragraph in which I briefly summarized the extensive research, explaining that the paper "can't get into the business of trying to explain whether a politician's view of the facts is correct."

Journalism today is, in my view, driven almost exclusively by the relentless pressure for ad dollars and the equally strong pressure to reduce the amount of space devoted to news, especially "hard" news.

I am not an optimist about the future of American journalism. Too few people know what journalism is, or care, and the increasing reliance by many people on blogs as a news source is undermining circulation and readership numbers.

We are, I think, well on the way to a return to the "yellow journalism" days of the late 19th century. And the public not only doesn't care, the public likes it that way. Entertainment is what they want, not knowledge.

LEZEE.COM said...

Abolutely agreed with the poll result.