Poll finds 58 percent say press more likely now to jump to conclusions

More people think reporters in today's fast-paced environment are likely to make hasty judgments about the news than in years past, according to a Hill-HarrisX poll released Friday.

Fifty-eight percent of registered voters contacted for the survey said that they believed reporters were more likely to jump to conclusions about events than before. Just 14 percent said contemporary reporters were less likely to do so while 27 percent said things were about the same as previously.

Majorities of all age groups in the survey said journalists form conclusions too rapidly. Generation Xers — adults between 35 and 49 — stood out as the most cynical with 64 percent saying that the media were too hasty, higher than the 56 percent of other age groups who agreed.

Men were more likely to believe journalists did not take enough time to validate stories with 63 percent saying this. A smaller majority of women, 54 percent, agreed.

"I think this poll is not surprising, it's devastating," Carl Cannon, the Washington bureau chief of RealClearPolitics, said Friday on "What America's Thinking," Hill.TV's show about public opinion and policy.

"I think the problem is worse than this poll shows," he added, arguing that Republicans and Democrats are more likely to regard the media with suspicion when their party controls the presidency. "I think it would be even worse if you took this partisan aspect out of it."

In the Hill-HarrisX survey, Republicans were considerably more likely to think journalistic standards had declined in recent years, with 82 percent saying this. Twenty-nine percent said today's reporters were about as likely to form hasty conclusions than in prior years. Just 15 percent said they were less likely.

Independents mostly agreed with Republicans with 60 percent saying reporters are quicker to form hasty judgements about the news. Thirty percent said journalists were about as likely as before while only 11 percent said contemporary media outlets were less likely.

Democratic respondents were less likely to think journalistic standards have declined but few thought the situation today is an improvement from years past.

Only 23 percent of Democrats said reporters today were less likely to jump to conclusions. Thirty-nine percent said journalists did so about as often as before while 38 percent said media professionals do so more often.

Skepticism about the news media has always been high but it has particularly increased among Republicans thanks to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE's frequent and often vitriolic condemnations of news reports that he dislikes, even if they are accurate.

In April, Quinnipiac University found that 51 percent of self-identified Republicans said that it was more accurate to describe the press as “the enemy of the people” instead of “an important part of democracy.” Just 37 percent of GOP respondents agreed with the latter characterization.

Some journalists have argued that the widespread use of social media sites like Twitter has increased the number of errors made by news professionals.

"Everything about Twitter’s interface encourages a mind-set antithetical to journalistic inquiry: It prizes image over substance and cheap dunks over reasoned debate, all the while severely abridging the temporal scope of the press," New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote in a Jan. 23 column that examined criticisms of the media for its coverage of a highly charged confrontation at a January anti-abortion protest.

CNN reported that Twitter suspended the anonymous account that had first shared an out-of-context excerpt of the argument after the social network found that it was utilizing the profile image of a Brazilian woman without her permission. A researcher specializing in Russian online disinformation told CNN that the story was promoted heavily by fake Twitter accounts.

The latest Hill-HarrisX survey was conducted Jan. 25-26 among 1,000 registered voters and has a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

—Matthew Sheffield