still support the idea of a free press as a watchdog on the government, and turn
to traditional news sources on major news stories despite skepticism about bias
in the news media, reveals the findings in the first segment of the 2009 State
of the First Amendment national survey, conducted by the First Amendment Center.
new innovations such as Twitter have attracted users and headlines, television
and other traditional news media remain the dominant source for Americans on major
new stories, the survey finds.
was the first source for major news stories for about half of all responding (49
per cent), followed by the Internet at 15 per cent, radio at 13 per cent and newspapers
at 10 per cent which places traditional news media (TV, radio and newspapers)
as the first source for 72 per cent of Americans. Twitter, e-mails and social-networking
sites each were named by 1 per cent of those responding.
for 48 per cent of Americans TV is the primary source for followup reports on
those news stories, followed by the Internet at 29% and newspapers at nine per
first segment of the State of the First Amendment 2009 survey reports how Americans
view their First Amendment freedoms, as well as the reach and credibility of emerging
news media. Additional segments this year will survey public opinion on specific
First Amendment issues.
per cent still see a free press as a necessary watchdog on government,
though nearly half of those responding (49 per cent) strongly disagreed with the
statement that the news media reports on news without bias.
three per cent of those who had an opinion on Twitter found it a very reliable
source of news and 14 per cent considered it somewhat reliable".
21 per cent said not reliable at all and 13 per cent said not
Americans have yet to tweet: 49 per cent of those responding didnt
know enough about Twitter to have formed an opinion. The reliability rating
rose only marginally among the younger groups in the survey: for those ages 18-35,
3.3 per cent said very reliable", while it was three per cent for those
ages 36-49. For older groups, the ratings fell 1.9 per cent for those aged 50-64,
and 1.3 per cent for those aged 65 and older.
four per cent of those questioned could name petition as one of the
five freedoms in the First Amendment, the lowest for any of the five freedoms
named in its 45 words.
freedom of speech was named by more than half of the respondents, 55 per cent
freedoms of religion, press and assembly were named by less than 20 per cent of
one in five Americans (19 per cent) saw the First Amendment as going too
far in the rights it guarantees.
Amendment Center VP, executive director Gene Policinski says, The findings
in this first segment of the 2009 survey suggest that while new forms of obtaining
information, including Twitter and social media, are much discussed and growing
in use, most Americans continue to rely on the same news organisations
including the news reports picked up by online news providers on which
they have relied for decades. Clearly, emerging media are novel and are finding
an audience, but there still is room for growth on the credibility side.