Bospar Study: Nearly All Americans Are Troubled by the Current State of the Media

Americans believe ethics in journalism will be worse during the 2020 presidential campaign

SAN FRANCISCO – SEPTEMBER 9, 2019 – Bospar, the boutique PR firm that puts tech companies on the map, has released the results of its Ethics in Media survey. The new data comes as Bospar hosts its Ethics in Media panel with the San Francisco Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and the San Francisco Press Club on Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. The event will take place at Werqwise on 149 New Montgomery St. in San Francisco. 

ABC Veteran anchor Cheryl Jennings will moderate the discussion. Panelists include former Wall Street Journal reporter and Message Lab CEO Ben Worthen and former KRON Executive Producer and Bospar Principal Curtis Sparrer.

Bospar and Propeller Insights surveyed 1,010 American adults and discovered that more than 95% are troubled by the current state of media. The reasons for their concern include the following:

  1. Reports on fake news – 53%
  2. Reporting gossip – 49%
  3. Lying spokespeople – 48%
  4. Celebrity opinions – 36%
  5. Left-wing agendas – 34%
  6. Gotcha journalism – 33%
  7. Right-wing agendas – 32%
  8. Puff pieces in exchange for access to other important interviews – 31%
  9. Blind items being reported in the news – 30%
  10. Hit pieces – 21%
  11. Rise of independent contributors versus on-staff media – 14%

And an overwhelming majority (67%) believe ethics in journalism will be worse during the 2020 presidential campaign. When asked about the impact unethical journalism has on the country, Americans cited four chief problems:

  • 64%: It creates division and partisanship
  • 63%: It fuels inaccuracies
  • 60%: It incites hate
  • 57%: It creates fear

“If ever there was a time for an in-depth discussion about ethics in the media, it’s now,” said James Ennis Kirkland, president of the San Francisco Press Club.

The survey group considered local print and online journalists as the most ethical (40%), followed by local TV reporters and anchors (23%) and national print and online journalists (22%). Only 15% of Americans said national TV anchors and reporters were the most ethical.

“When you look at perceptions of ethics in journalism, based on political affiliation, those aligned with the Democratic Party are significantly more likely to consider national journalists/anchors/reporters ethical, when compared to those aligned with the Republican Party or other minor parties,” said Gabrielle Ayala, Principal of Propeller Insights. “This is no surprise, given the current battles being waged by all groups in politics and the media to control the narrative and position themselves as the bearers of truth.”

When it came to ranking PR and marketing people by ethics, individuals in those roles in health services came on top (23%), followed by technology (17%), professional services (16%), food and beverage (9%), consumer/retail (6%), and entertainment (6%).

Interestingly, Americans’ ethical expectations of journalism mirrored their expectations of PR and marketing. Slightly more than 43% said journalism is less ethical than in the past, while 37% said ethics hasn’t changed recently, and 20% said it’s more ethical than in the past. When asked about PR and marketing, the percentages were nearly the same: 42% said that the current state of ethics in PR and marketing is less ethical than in the past, while 39% said ethics hasn’t changed recently, and 19% said it’s more ethical than in the past.

“I think the reason Americans have similar ethical viewpoints of journalism and PR is that they are increasingly seeing them intertwined,” said Sparrer. “However, an overwhelming percentage of Americans–86%–expect PR and marketing people to be ethical. Americans expect PR and marketing professionals to be open and honest with the media and clients.”

John McCartney, president of the PRSA San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, added, “Obviously, the media plays an important role in our country. However, the media continues to be scrutinized by those in government and by almost everyone else. We look forward to a spirited discussion on the current state of ethics in media. We also thank Bospar and Werqwise for their involvement with this program.”

About Propeller Insights

Propeller Insights is a full-service market research firm based in Los Angeles. Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies to measure and analyze marketplace and consumer opinions, they work extensively across industries such as travel, brand intelligence, entertainment/media, retail, and consumer packaged goods.

About Bospar

Bospar is a boutique tech PR firm featuring a team of highly seasoned professionals who exist to put tech companies on the map. Bospar’s principals include a long-time PR and tech industry guru, a former broadcast TV producer and award-winning media maven, a standout PR agency manager from the corporate side of a leading global law firm, and an experienced executive with both large agency and public company credentials. Bospar’s larger team includes experts in both social and traditional media, as well as financial and analyst relations and public affairs.