PBS: Number one in public trust (again and again and again…)

Stand aside, cable news networks. For seven years and running, PBS has clocked in at number one in public trust – and this year is no exception. Considering that the purpose of public media is to meet the needs of the public and not the shareholders, this poll is a good sign that PBS is on the right track.

The Roper Poll results show that PBS is not only ahead of Fox News Channel and CNN for “most trusted,” but viewers also found that their news and public affairs programming was “mostly fair” (when compared to “liberal” or “conservative”). But beyond the tired “is public broadcasting too partisan” debate (can we put that one to bed already?), the real useful numbers were in the public’s perception of PBS coverage of public affairs issues and news:

More than 75 percent of the public believes PBS addresses key news, public affairs and social issues “very/moderately” well, including providing access to arts and culture (88 percent); promoting understanding of science and technology (82 percent); providing access to a variety of viewpoints (78 percent); informing people about health issues (77 percent); and informing people about important political and social issues (76 percent).

Not only do taxpayers seem to believe that PBS programming is trustworthy, mostly balanced, and covering social issues well, but they also feel it is still a national public resource worth investing in. About 80 percent feel that it is money well spent and a near majority feel that the federal funding PBS currently receives is insufficient.

For all the fear mongering that goes on these days over government investment in journalism, it seems that the majority of people don’t share this panic-driven mindset. Though there are some significant changes that need to be made to our public media system (including a complete overhaul of the current funding system), we already have an infrastructure in place that could be built off of in order to support journalists and journalism in the United States.

One thing is absolutely clear: people want and revere quality, hard-hitting journalism, and they distinguish public media above all other. Shouldn’t be hard to make a case for why we should further support it.

This post originally appeared on NewPublicMedia.org.