The business of news has itself become news, with shrinking newsrooms and questions about media bias making headlines. And in recent years, the public image of journalists and their perceived contribution to society has declined, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.
Just 28% of American adults believe journalists contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being. About the same percentage (27%) think journalists contribute “not very much” or “nothing at all,” while 42% of Americans think journalists contribute “some” to society.
The survey asked Americans to rate the contributions of 10 occupational groups, and only business executives and lawyers received lower marks than journalists. Members of the military and teachers topped the list, with 78% and 72%, respectively, saying these professions contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being.
Compared with other professions, journalists dropped the most (10 percentage points) in public esteem since 2009, when 38% of Americans said journalists contributed “a lot” to society.
The most significant change in opinion occurred among women. Today, 29% of American women think journalists contribute “a lot” to society, a 17-point decrease from 2009.
The decline in the perceived contribution of journalists cuts across partisan lines. Both Democrats (including Democratic-leaning independents) as well as Republicans (including Republican-leaning independents) are less likely today than in 2009 to say journalists contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being. The share of Democrats and Democratic-leaners who say journalists contribute “a lot” to society dropped 10 percentage points, and the percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaners who say the same dropped eight points.