The Media Loses Face in American Society

The Media Loses Face in American Society

The findings from a survey by the Pew Research Center presented in "Trends 2005," reported that beliefs about national security are twice as important to the American public as economic, social or religious values in shaping people's partisan identification. Five years ago, these national security attitudes barely registered as a correlate of partisanship.

This first book by the Pew Research Center examines current developments and long-term trends in politics, religion and public life; the media; the growing Hispanic population; state policy; and national and global public opinion. A sampling of key findings, follows.

  • Notwithstanding a sharp partisan divide over national security, the survey found that fundamental American values still reflect a mix of both consensus and contention; there is, for example, broad public agreement about the importance of religion, the power of the individual and the need for environmental protection.
  • Despite the fact that the great majority of Americans are religious and believe in God, whether a person regularly attends church correlated much more strongly with his or her vote for president last year than did such demographic characteristics as gender, age, income or region.
  • In the past two decades, the public has lost more confidence in the media than in any other major institution in American society - including government, business, religion, education, the military and others.
  • On a typical day at the end of 2004, 70 million American adults logged onto the Internet, a 37 percent increase over the number who did so in 2000. The basic ways that people use this technology have remained fairly constant over the past five years. For most people, the net functions primarily as a mail pigeon, then a library, then an amusement park, then a shopping center.
  • At the end of 2004, 40.4 million Hispanics lived in this country, 14 percent of the total U.S. population. Latinos are now not only the nation's fastest-growing minority group, but also it's largest. Latino immigrants have birth rates twice as high as those of the rest of the U.S. population, foretelling a sharp increase ahead in the percentage of Latinos who will be in schools and the work place.
  • Anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history, fueled by a perception that the U.S. acts only in its own interests and is indifferent to those of other nations. Even though people around the world are increasingly distrustful of U.S. foreign policy motives, these same publics believe the world is safer because no single nation can challenge the U.S. militarily.

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