Nearly three quarters of Americans believe the news media reports with an intentional bias, according to a new survey.
The 2015 State of the First Amendment Survey, conducted by the First Amendment Center and USA Today, was released Friday. It shows that only 24 percent of American adults agree with the statement that "overall, the news media tries to report the news without bias," while 70 percent disagree.
When the question was asked last year, 41 percent agreed, a 17-point difference.
"These are discouraging results for those of us who have spent our careers in journalism," Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today on Thursday. "In 23 years in newsrooms, I saw consistent and concerted efforts to get stories right. Clearly, the public's not convinced."
The survey suggests that controversies this year that engulfed national news anchors Brian Williams of NBC and George Stephanopoulos of ABC may have had a deep impact on public trust in media. It also floats the idea that the public has had a negative reaction to news coverage of the racially-charged events in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md.
Other findings in the survey:
• Only 19 percent of Americans say the First Amendment goes "too far" in the rights that it guarantees. Last year, 38 percent said it went too far, meaning support for the First Amendment has grown.
• 38 percent agree that business owners should be required to provide services to same-sex couples, a 14-point drop from 2013, when the question was first asked.
• 35 percent say the government "should be allowed to deny issuing license plates to a group who intends to display a Confederate flag on the plates," while 56 percent oppose the idea.