77% of Americans blame media for making economic crisis worse


Seventy-seven percent of Americans believe that the U.S. media is making the economic situation worse by projecting fear into people’s minds.

The majority of those surveyed feel that the financial press, by focusing on and embellishing negative news, is damaging consumer confidence and damping investment, making a difficult situation much worse. The poll was conducted via telephone, December 4 – 7.

The US survey of 1000 adults was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation and is statistically representative of the total U.S. population. The survey question: "Do you think the financial press is making the economic crisis worse by projecting fear into people’s minds?" While the overall response indicated that 77% of Americans answered YES, here are highlights of note:

  Household Incomes:
  $25k – $35k — 79% answered YES
  $35k – $50k — 88% answered YES
  $50k – $75k — 76% answered YES
  $75k – more — 78% answered YES

  85% of young adults (18-24 yrs old) answered YES
  77% of males and females alike answered YES
  65% of blacks answered YES

Richard Scheff, a national expert on corporate liability and white collar crime issues, warns media that they could potentially be exposed to liability despite apparent constitutional protections:

"Although statements by the media are protected by the First Amendment, the survey results demonstrate that the public believes that the press bears some responsibility for the lack of confidence in the economy. One would hope that the media would act less out of self-interest in these times of national crisis," said Mr. Scheff, vice chairman and partner with Philadelphia-based law firm Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads.

RBR/TVBR observation: Let’s face it, you just can’t get away from the gloom and doom reporting and talk topics. People are getting sick of it and frankly, from what we’ve heard, are just turning off the news (may affect ratings). Indeed, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you keep telling viewers and listeners no one is spending money in retail because of economic fears, they will eventually stop doing it. Yes, people are definitely suffering, but let’s take some of the focus off of it day-in and day-out. It does make it worse.