Pew Research Center’s study breaks down U.S. citizens and journalists’ beliefs on covering both sides of the news.
In this era of “misinformation” and “doing your research,” U.S. citizens and journalists are split on how information should be delivered. After reaching a boiling point during the pandemic and Donald Trump’s presidency, Pew Research Center conducted a study to see whether the American people believed in knowing all sides of a story.
The research is centered around “Bothsidesism,” the belief that media should report on both sides of a story.
Naomi Forman-Katz and Mark Jurkowitz from Pew Research shared the “bothsidesim” study by surveying U.S. citizens and journalists. Age, media field and political party were all factors during this research.
The first survey showed the two groups’ results in whether they believed journalists should give equal coverage to all sides. Fifty-five percent of journalists believed every side does not deserve equal coverage while 44% believed journalists should strive to give equal coverage. As for U.S adults, 76% believe journalists should strive for equal coverage while 22% do not.
This study on “Bothsidesim” continued to split when it came to the different ages of journalists.
For journalists aged 18-29, 37% believed in every side getting equal coverage while 63% believed every side should not. The results were similar for journalists ages 30-49.
Older journalists had a more equally divided opinion. For journalists ages 50-64, 50% believe in equal coverage while 49% do not. The results were similar for journalists 65 and older.
After seeing the differences in beliefs among the different age groups, Pew Research began to look into how long journalists have been working.
“About half of journalists surveyed who have been working in the news industry for more than 20 years (49%) say journalists should always strive for equal coverage, compared with 38% of those who have been working in the industry for 10 years or less. Those who have worked in the industry for 11 to 20 years fall somewhere in between (43%),” reported Forman-Katz and Jurkowitz.
Differences continued in media platforms. Fifty-five percent of journalists in broadcasting believe in equal coverage while 44% do not. Forty-nine percent of journalists in radio strived for equal coverage while 50% did not.
Print and online journalism leaned the other way. Forty-three percent of journalists in print media strived for equal coverage while 56% believed all sides don’t deserve equal coverage. Thirty-seven percent of journalists in online media believed in equal coverage while 61% did not.
The research also pointed out that journalists would cater to their audiences’ political beliefs. For those with a right leaning audience, 57% of journalists strived for equal coverage while 42% did not. For those with a left leaning audience, 30% of journalists believed in equal coverage while 69% believe every side does not deserve equal coverage.
This current state of journalism is now affecting the journalists themselves.
In another study from Pew Research, 77% of U.S. journalists would pursue a career in journalism again and 75% are proud of the work they have published.
At the same time, 72% negatively described the current news industry and 57% are concerned about new restrictions on the press.
The effects of today’s media is also affecting current journalism majors.
Kairos Kobayashi, senior journalism major and news editor for ZU News, believes that these changes in the journalism industry were bound to happen.
“With new advances in technology and the rise of social media, journalism has changed a lot compared to two decades ago … I feel that some changes are needed for journalism to continue to thrive,” said Kobayashi.
Despite its current state, Kobayashi plans to continue pursuing a career in journalism and become independent so that he will be able to focus on topics and issues that are important to him.
As for the belief in “bothsidesism,” Kobayashi believes it is more idealistic than realistic. “Generally, it is a good goal and is ideal, but I think it’s too idealistic … This is mainly when information is scarce or the story doesn’t have equally strong points for both sides,” said Kobayashi.
For Emily Guerrero, junior journalism major, she thinks it’s rare to find good journalism in its current form.
“The state of journalism now makes it seem as if anyone can be a journalist. What’s the criteria to be a journalist? Journalism has a bad reputation because of the sloppy reporting … Journalism should be about informing society, telling stories to correct wrongdoings,” said Guerrero.
Although she is not confident in today’s journalism, Guerrero still wants to make it in the industry. Her main goal is to be the reformation she wishes to see in the industry as a foreign correspondent and investigative journalist.
When it comes to “bothsidesism,” Guerrero believes that journalists should strive for equal coverage. “I think it will help keep people informed. People should be able to decide for themselves what they want to believe, so that means all sides should be covered equally,” said Guerrero.
For now, media and information will continue to be debated and fought over. It’s up to present and future journalists to bring major changes, either through resetting or rebuilding the industry of journalism.