Media should pay heed to recent survey

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2003

If surveys are to be believed, then a recent one about Americans’ support of the First Amendment to the Constitution is interesting news, to say the least.

A recent telephone poll shows that 19 percent of those surveyed strongly agreed that the First Amendment grants too many freedoms. This is down considerably from the 41 percent of last year’s survey.

Almost half of those called said they thought they did not have enough access to information about how the government is combating terrorism.

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What this says to us is that more and more Americans are recovering from the shock of Sept. 11, 2001. They’re seriously questioning what the government is doing to prevent similar re-occurrences and, more importantly, what First Amendment rights are being compromised for the sake of national security.

True, any government’s only function is to protect its citizens but this should not be at the expense of their basic rights to speak, gather, publish, and worship.

Furthermore, most of those responding believe that recent consolidation of media ownership lessens the amount and quality of information they get.

Nearly half of the participants surveyed believe the news media have too much freedom, has been too aggressive in its coverage of the recent war, and are not trustworthy to deliver it objectively.

Naturally, that is distressing to any reporter who makes the effort to report the facts, only to learn that the reading public is suspicious of the story. That doubt might not be personal, but it still stings.

Nonetheless, it’s up to persons of integrity within the news media to do all they can to report the facts and have their proof ready for inspection. After that, the public still must decide.