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News media and political polarisation

Survey says news media is increasing political polarisation

News media is doing more harm than good for democracy and political polarisation, according to a new US survey. Nearly three-quarters of adults say the news media is increasing political polarization in the country, according to the survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

Four in 10 say the press is doing more to hurt American democracy, while only about 2 in 10 say the press is doing more to protect it. An additional 4 in 10 say neither applies, Associated Press says in a summary of its survey.

93% say the spread of misinformation is a problem. About two-thirds of adults
attribute responsibility for the spread of misinformation to politicians, social media companies and their users. But nearly as many (58%) are holding the news media responsible as well.

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In their daily consumption of news, a third say they see stories containing false claims from politicians (32%) and misleading headlines (31%). 19% say they see conspiracy theories in news stories daily.

And when it comes to fixing the problem, 63% say the news media has a great deal or quite a bit of responsibility to address the spread of misinformation.

A slim majority say they have some degree of confidence in the news media’s ability to report the news fully and fairly. Only 16% say they are very confident. 45% say they have little to no confidence at all.

The survey also finds that people value in-depth and investigative reporting but are less likely to engage with that content.

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A majority say news stories that report the facts of the issues or that include in-depth background information and analysis of the issues are extremely or very helpful when it
comes to understanding issues important to them. But when they are trying to understand the issues they care about, people more often find themselves scanning the news headlines than engaging with in-depth or investigative reporting, the report says.

61% of Republicans say the news media is hurting democracy, compared with 23% of Democrats and 36% of independents who don’t lean toward either party.

Majorities across party lines say the news media fuels political division, but Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say that’s happening a lot.

And more Republicans think the news is strongly influenced by the US government and the political views of journalists.

44% of respondents say the US government is doing a good job in protecting the freedom of the press. 24% who say it’s doing a bad job. Roughly a third say they’re very concerned or extremely concerned about attacks on the press.

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