A few weeks ago, a study looked at which groups journalists respect most
. A new poll by Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life
has turned the tables, asking the public what it thinks of journalists, as well as other occupational groups. It doesn’t look good for news gatherers.
In a comparable 2009 poll, 38 percent of respondents said journalists contribute “a lot” to society. Since then, it’s dropped 10 percentage points, more than any other group, to 28 percent. About 42 percent of respondents said journalists contribute “some” to society, and 27 percent said they contribute nothing at all. Ouch.
Compare that against the most-disliked group, attorneys, whose “contribute a lot” rating dropped from 23 percent to 18 percent. Reporters seem to be catching up.
Journalists’ reputations have taken a particular hit among women: 17 percentage points in Pew’s poll. Among men, their reputation took a much smaller hit of two percentage points. Then again, they had further to fall in the eyes of women, who had much higher regard for journalists four years ago.
Education seems to make little difference when it comes to deteriorating perceptions of journalists. People with college degrees, some college, or only high school all valued journalists about the same as the average of 28 percent. Political party is a more telling factor. About 36 percent of Democrats say journalists contribute “a lot,” while only 20 percent of Republicans do.
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So, who still commands respect? Members of the military, teachers, medical doctors, scientists, and engineers all had “contribute a lot to society” rankings or 60 percent or higher. Of note, all those professions were just slightly below where they were four years ago.
Only one profession—business executive—saw an increase in the perception that it contributes a lot to society. It’s still near the bottom, though, just above lawyers and just below journalists.
Pew’s survey was of 4,006 adults nationwide.