The Decline of
Although TV news has its moments of shinning success, such as the coverage of the terrorist attacks on the East Coast of the United States in September, 2001, and the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, over the last few decades the credibility of TV news in general has declined.
Here are just a few reasons why:
Many broadcast professionals remember a time when newspapers and electronic journalism were held in much higher esteem — primarily because there was a "high wall" separating news departments and bottom-line corporate interests.
News and Politics
A study conducted by USC's Annenberg School for Communication and the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed newscasts of 122 local TV stations in the nation's largest media markets during the 2002 mid-term elections. They found that the majority of the newscasts at these stations did not contain a single campaign story.
Of those that did, the average story was 89 seconds long. Most stories did not focus on issues, but simply who was ahead in the election. A clear link was found between stations owned by media chains and the absence of local election information.
The situation is even worse in radio, where thousands of stations in the U.S. are owned by a single company which has few if any ties to local communities.
It is assumed -- generally by newscast consultants hired by the stations -- that election news does not help ratings. Even so, political advertising is a major source of revenue for the stations.
At the same time we need to put some things into perspective.
For many years TV has represented the number one source of news and information for the vast majority of people in industrialized nations.
Note in the graph below that among college-age students the Internet is now the primary source of news. More than one person in this age group has explained that they can simply get the information faster from the Internet—and often without commercial clutter.*
Note that in the graph below that newspapers are in last place.
Although this graph doesn't represent the general population, it may suggest the beginning of a trend. (See also youth and media use.)
The blog article, The Debasement of TV News, has more information on this issue.
* In the early days of the Internet commercial content was virtually non-existent. However, today Internet advertising is almost as prevalent as it is in broadcast TV.