If you think some topics receive way too much attention in news coverage, you’re not alone. Per a new online survey of 2,537 adults conducted by the Harris Poll in August, a large proportion of Americans are fed up with news coverage that skews toward the sensational, superficial, and sports-centric.
The Harris Poll found that 76% of U.S. adults surveyed believe that celebrity gossip and scandal stories receive too much coverage, while 49% believe that entertainment news in general gets too much attention. Meanwhile, 44% believe that the news focuses too much on professional spectator sports, and 33% believe the same for politics and elections.
Other topics receive too little attention, according to the Harris respondents, including humanitarian issues in the U.S., cited by 47%; education, also 47%; science, at 45%; government corruption and scandals, at 44%; corporate corruption and white collar crime, at 42%; global humanitarian issues, at 33%; and health, at 30%.
Harris found there is some variation across generations when it comes to attitudes toward news, although there is still broad agreement on some basic trends. Thus, 88% of older Americans believe celebrity gossip receives too much coverage, sliding to 79% of baby boomers, 76% of Gen Xers, and 68% of millennials.
On the other hand, 59% of older Americans believe that government corruption receives too little coverage, compared to 41% for Baby Boomers, 39% of Gen Xers, and 41% of millennials. Millennials are more likely to believe international issues receive too little coverage.
Americans seem to be fairly skeptical about the reliability of news media, with only a relatively small proportion of respondents saying they have “a lot of trust” in various news sources, although a larger share expressed some amount of trust.
Here, 25% of respondents expressed great confidence in local TV news, versus 53% who said they have “some trust” and 17% who said they had little or no trust. For local newspapers, the proportions were 21%, 55%, and 19%, respectively; for radio, 16%, 57%, and 20%; for cable TV news, 15%, 51%, and 28%; for national newspapers, 16%, 50%, and 27%; and for network TV news, 17%, 48%, and 30%.
Online news ranked lowest in terms of trust, although sites associated with long-established news media have somewhat more credibility. For online news sites tied to traditional outlets, 17% expressed a great deal of trust, 50% some trust, and 26% little or no trust. For pure online-only news sites, the proportions were 11%, 50%, and 32%.