Journalists Place Near Bottom in Poll Ranking Public Respect for Professions

Continuing a decades-long trend, members of the media placed near the bottom in a poll which asked respondents their opinions of various professions.

In the Gallup survey, TV reporters were barely more popular than advertising salespeople, state-level politicians, car salesmen, members of Congress, and lobbyists with just 20 percent of respondents saying they had a favorable opinion. They were tied with lawyers.

Print newspaper reporters fared slightly better at 21 points. The most respected professions overall were nurses, pharmacists, grade school teachers, medical doctors, and military officers.

In a separate analysis, Gallup revealed that people’s partisan identities seemed to affect their views of the various jobs.

The survey revealed a 24-point gap between Republicans and Democrats over respect for police officers with 68 percent of Republicans viewing them positively compared to just 44 percent of Democrats. 52 percent of self-identified independents viewed law enforcement officers positively.

A similar-sized gap existed in respondents’ attitudes toward religious professionals with 63 percent of Republicans viewing them favorably compared to just 40 percent of Democrats. Independents were only slightly less positively inclined toward clergy with 42 percent saying they had a “high” or “very high” opinion of them.

In the survey, Democrats were less likely to view members of the military positively with 64 percent of them viewing service members positively compared to 78 percent of Republicans.

Given the overwhelming liberal dominance of the nation’s elite news media, it is unsurprising that Democrats were more positive toward journalists than Republicans were. Neither group really had that positive of feelings about them, however.

According to the survey, 25 percent of Democrats approved of television journalists compared to just 15 percent of Republicans. There was a similar nine-point difference among the two parties over approval of newspaper reporters. This reflects a long-term trend of Democrats being more favorably disposed toward journalists than Republicans are.

Democrats also seem more favorably disposed than Republicans toward judges and lobbyists. In the Gallup sample, 10 percent more of Democrats viewed the judges positively than Republicans did. A slightly smaller number of Democrats, 7 percent, viewed lobbyists more approvingly.

The survey also found some difference between the ratings that different age groups gave to the various professions. Younger people ages 18-34 were more likely to be favorably disposed toward most professions than those 55 and older. There was one significant exception, however. Gallup found that young people were 18 percent less likely to view members of the clergy favorably. The increasingly negative view of younger people toward religion seems to account for the fact that Gallup's 2013 survey revealed the lowest-ever approval rating for members of the clergy.

Older Americans were much less favorably disposed toward several professions than their younger counterparts. There was a 23 percent gap between younger and older Americans’ views of judges and nursing home operators.

A smaller but still significant gap of 19 percent exists between the age groups on their opinion of attorneys. There was an 18 percent age gap in approval of children’s daycare providers.

Younger people also gave more credibility to journalists than their 55+ counterparts. They viewed television journalists 9 percent more favorably than those over 55 and newspaper reporters 8 percent more positively.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013