The Press Versus the Public: What is "good journalism?"

Homero Gil de Zúñiga, Amber Hinsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


For several decades, citizens have reported that they trust some news outlets over others largely because they perceive the industry to be biased in its coverage. On the other hand, journalists have a more positive perception of their work than does the public. Long-standing research on journalists confirms they see their profession as a public-service calling, featuring principal tenets that include being watchdogs and providing analysis of complex problems. Recent research on the public suggests poor perceptions of press performance are linked to reduced news consumption. Using two contemporaneous survey data from both US newspaper journalists and the US public, this research first sheds some light over what may constitute "good journalism" for the public and for journalists. Then, it compares news consumers' views of the work being produced by the newspaper profession and the views held by the newspaper journalists themselves. Additionally, the present study explores the connection between the public's perception of good journalism and their consumption of distinct modes of information: traditional news, citizen journalism, and infotainment. Findings indicate that newspaper journalists give significantly higher marks to their performance on the tenets of "good journalism" than do members of the public. Furthermore, there is a positive association between citizens who reported higher scores on journalists' "good journalism" performance and the consumption of traditional news and infotainment programs. No association is found with respect to the likelihood to consume citizen journalism content. Implications of these findings and shortcoming of the study are also addressed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)926-942
Number of pages17
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication


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