The Media Expects

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Pew Research Center poll on attitudes toward “America’s place in the world.”

Here’s a handful of numbers that jumped out at me:

Percent who believe “efforts to establish a stable democracy in Iraq will succeed”
media: 33
general public: 56

Bush’s job rating approval
media: 21
general public: 40

If nothing else it helps explain the great frustration many Americans express toward the legacy media. According to a Gallup poll from late May, only 28 percent of Americans expressed “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers and TV news. This figure had been stable, holding between 51 and 55 percent from 1997 to 2003.

But there’s a subtler quality to that media expectation of failure. You write news stories based on what happens. But you also, inevitably, write them with an eye to what you expect to happen. Often this expresses itself unconsciously. But rest assured, it will creep in. If things go well in a place you expect them to go poorly in the long term, you’ll write, “despite the overall bad news, and probably only for a little while, things are going well in X.”

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