One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey released Sunday by the University of Connecticut. The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get “government approval” of stories before publishing. Asked whether the press enjoys enough freedom, 32% say “too much.” Isn't civics required curriculum at high schools? Let's hope none of these grow up to be president. . . or pundit.
“These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous,” said Hodding Carter III, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. “Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation’s future.”
On a related theme, Brian Montopoli writes that one of the most striking developments to come out of the recent payola flaps involving conservative pundits has been just how surprised the participants seem to be by the ethical outrage that has greeted exposure of their actions. It seems they skipped Journalism 101. Paul Glastris adds that the payola pundits' surprise signals that "the ascendant class of conservative pundit-operatives looks upon old strictures of (journalistic) behavior with a kind of incomprehension, even contempt." Montopoli agrees that there seems to be a feeling among some politicians and commentators that the "old, honor-based standards of journalism have grown quaint."
Recent opinion polls, which show a growing belief among many Americans that reporters have little regard for ethics, would seem to confirm these concerns. But it may well just be the case of a few bad apples: A Williams and J Gannon to start.