Journalists and readers are not in sync on the question of objectivity.
A recent Pew Research Center study found that 76% of all Americans believe reporters should always strive to give all sides equal coverage. But only 44% of journalists agree.
On the contrary, 55% of reporters claim every side does not deserve equal coverage.
Older journalists are more likely to value objectivity: 50% in the 50-64 age group and 49% in the 65+ cohort feel journalists should always strive to give every side equal coverage.
In contrast, only 37% in the 18-29 age group and 39% aged 30-49 feel the same way.
This also depends on how long journalists have been working in the profession.
Of those with 20 years+, 49% say journalists should try for equal coverage, compared with 38% of those with 10 years or less. And 43% with 11 to 20 years feel that way.
Opinions also vary with the medium—55% of TV journalists strive for objectivity, compared with 49% of those in radio, 43% in print and 37% online.
Of reporters working for right-leaning news organizations, 57% say they strive to cover both sides, versus 30% of those on left-leaning products and 59% on mixed.
Another variable is how reporters view misinformation. Of those who see it as a very big problem, 40% say both sides should get equal coverage. But 53% who feel misinformation is only moderately big/small/not a problem concur.
Age is also a factor in how readers feel about objectivity.
Of those in the 65+ category, 80% say journalists should always attempt to give both sides, and they are joined by 82% in the 50-64 category. But the figure drops to 74% among those aged 30-49 and to 71% within the 18-29 age group.
Among readers, trust in media also figures into it—84% who trust a little or none at all want both sides presented, compared with 75% with some trust and 66% with a great deal.
Pew surveyed 11,889 U.S.-based journalists between February and March 2022.