Pew survey gauges Japanese confidence in media coverage at 65%

by

Staff Writer

A U.S. think tank survey released Friday found that 65 percent of Japanese saw the domestic media as doing very or somewhat well at reporting news accurately.

According to a poll by the Washington D.C.-based Pew Research Center on global views of the news media, 55 percent of those surveyed also said their media do a good job of covering political issues fairly. The same ratio also said they do well providing news about government leaders and officials.

The survey, which suggested most Japanese want the media to be unbiased when covering political issues, drew 41,953 respondents in 38 countries between last February and May. In Japan, just over 1,000 people were canvassed by telephone for their opinions.

In the poll, 76 percent of the Japanese respondents said it is never acceptable for a news organization to favor one political party when reporting the news. That figure was 78 percent in the United States and United Kingdom, and 87 percent in Australia. Only 25 percent in India said it is never acceptable.

The 55 percent of the Japanese who said domestic news organizations are doing well or very well at reporting different positions on political issues fairly is just above the 52 percent median for all countries surveyed.

It is also above the U.S., where only 47 percent of respondents thought their media were doing a good job covering the issues fairly. That compares with 52 percent in the U.K. and 48 percent in Australia. In South Korea, only 27 percent felt their news organizations were being fair.

In Canada, however, 73 percent gave good marks to their media, with the Philippines and Vietnam even higher at 78 percent. Six countries in Africa meanwhile offered high marks ranging from 65 percent in South Africa to 83 percent in Tanzania.

In the meantime, the 55 percent of Japanese respondents who gave good marks for coverage of government leaders and officials was slightly less than the 59 percent median in that category for the 38 countries.

But among seven Asian/Oceania countries surveyed, it was the second-lowest after South Korea, where 26 percent believed their media did a good job covering officials. The survey was conducted after the impeachment of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and prior to the May 2017 election that brought Moon Jae-in to power.

“Despite vast differences around the globe in government, political and media structures, there is a wide and strong consensus that the role of the news media is not to take sides on political matters, but rather to report all sides fairly,” Amy Mitchell, the center’s director of journalism research and one of the report’s co-authors said in a statement.