Report Card on Canadian News Media
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01 Report Card on Canadian News...
02 Part One:
03 The Areas We Examined...
04 Interest in News
05 Where Canadians Get Their News
06 North American and European...
07 National and Local Canadian...
08 News on the Internet
09 Top Internet Sites for...
10 Canadians Watch Canadian...
11 Canadians Have Routines...
12 Part Two:
13 Elements of Credibility
14 Media Accuracy
15 Quote
16 Reporter Bias: Canada
17 Reporter Bias: U.S.
18 Quote
19 Fairness and Balance
20 Fairness and Balance
21 Media Accountability
22 Media Responsiveness
23 Sensationalism and Trust
24 Quote
25 Are the Media Independent?
26 Who Influences the News?
27 Consolidation & Ownership
28 Role of the Media in Society
29 Comparing News Media
30 Satisfaction with Aspects...
31 Quote
32 Understanding News Stories
33 Features of the French (Quebec)...
34 Interest in News
35 Media Role in Society
36 Television vs. Newspapers
37 Part Three:
38 Report Card
39 Methodology
40 Research Team and Links


Canadians More Positive Than Americans About Their Media

Canadians are significantly less cynical than Americans about the news, according to results released today from the first independent national survey of Canadian attitudes toward the media. The creditability in journalism study was conducted by a national team of researchers from three major universities.

While 48 per cent of Canadians believe the news media help society solve problems, in the United States, nearly six in 10 Americans believe the news media actually get in the way.

Question:  Which of the following two statements about the news media do you agree with more?
The news media... Canada U.S. society solve problems 48% 31%
...get in the way 38% 58%
Don't know 14% 11%

Canadians clearly demonstrate a preference for 'made-in-Canada news'—only 15 per cent watch news on U.S. stations and 35 per cent of Canadians never watch news on U.S. channels.

The Canadian public also has a much better view than the American public on media accuracy. Although a significant number of people in this country, one in three, believes news reports are often inaccurate.

Question:  In general, do you think news organizations get the facts straight, or do you think that their stories and reports are often inaccurate?
The news media... Canada U.S.
...get the facts straight 59% 36%
...reports often inaccurate 31% 56%
Don't know 10% 8%

While the study found that news is important to Canadians, on several measures of credibility and trust, the public clearly has some issues with the media. When respondents were asked what they felt was the most important issue affecting trust, 33 per cent said accuracy, 32 per cent said impartiality, 15 per cent said general credibility and 12 per cent said ownership.

On the issue of fairness and balance, two-thirds of Canadians think news is not often fair and balanced. Only 19 per cent believe news is seldom or never balanced. Interestingly, Quebeckers are more positive than English Canadians with 44 per cent of French speakers saying news is often fair and balanced. The study also found younger Canadians more likely to perceive a lack of balance, with 74 per cent saying they see a lack of balance at least sometimes. Overall, the Canadian national figures are:

Question:  Do you find news reporting to be fair and balanced often, sometimes, seldom or never?
Often 37%
Sometimes 42%
Seldom 15%
Never 3%
Don't know/refused 2%

On one measure, Canadians were particularly cynical. The issue of media independence was the only measure on which Canadians were slightly more pessimistic than their American counterparts. Canadian audiences believe that the news they receive is strongly influenced by powerful people or groups. This cynicism is reflected in the fact that less than one in five Canadians thinks news organizations are independent. Young Canadians are even more cynical than older Canadians—81 per cent of 19 to 25 year olds believe news organizations are influenced by powerful people or organizations.

Question:  In general, do you think news organizations are mostly independent, or are they often influenced by powerful people and organizations?
News organizations are... Canada U.S.
...mostly independent 19% 23%
...often influenced by powerful people/organizations 76% 70%
Don't know 5% 7%

"These findings are both encouraging and disturbing. We think it is valuable to track Canadian attitudes on critical issues and we hope these results will be helpful to the media and the public in dealing with the critical role of the media in today's society," says lead researcher on the project, Donna Logan, Professor and Director of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of British Columbia.

These findings are part of the first independent national study of news media and news media credibility, conducted by the Canadian Media Research Consortium, a collaboration of researchers from the University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, York/Ryerson Joint Graduate Programme in Communication and Culture, and le Centre d'Études sur les médias (Université Laval and H.E.C.).

The study is based on 23-minute telephone interviews with a representative sample of 3012 Canadians in November and December 2003. The margin of error is +/-2% (19 times out of 20).

For further information contact:

Darlene Haber
Project Director
Examining Credibility in Canadian Journalism
phone: 604-240-6446