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Stockton poll from September gives middling grade to local media

51% say there’s not enough coverage of state, local elections to make informed vote

By Joey Fox, December 16 2022 11:01 am

A Stockton University poll released yesterday – but conducted in September, before New Jerseyans went to the polls in November – gives mediocre grades to local media in New Jersey, with many respondents saying that they struggle to get the information they need to be involved in their community.

40% of respondents gave negative marks (defined in the poll as 1 or 2 on a scale of 1-5) on whether the media’s coverage of what goes on in local government is informative, while 28% gave positive marks. Asked whether the media does well at providing information about getting involved in local communities, 57% gave negative marks and just 18% gave positive.

More broadly, only 13% of respondents said they had “a lot of trust” in local media organizations; 59% said they had “some trust,” and 24% said they had “no trust.”

“It’s a vicious circle in which readership and viewership decline, resources are cut and there is less local news content available,” John Froonjian, the director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, said in a statement accompanying the poll. “As local coverage becomes scarce, fewer people consume news.”

The poll also seemingly found that the media’s coverage – or lack thereof – of local issues has an effect on the ability of New Jerseyans to get involved in their community and make informed voting decisions.

49% of respondents said they don’t have the information needed “to try to address problems in my community,” versus 40% of respondents who said that they do have enough information.

51% of respondents, meanwhile, said they don’t feel there is enough news coverage to make an informed decision in local and state elections; 40% said there is enough coverage. That stands in contrast to the 55% of respondents who said they think there’s enough coverage of national elections to make an informed vote.

Despite being published today, the poll was in the field from September 20-29, nearly three months ago. It’s not clear why the polling institute waited so long to release its data, though unlike with election polls, it’s reasonable to assume that New Jerseyans’ perspectives on local media have not dramatically changed in the last three months.

The Stockton Polling Institute poll was conducted from September 20-29 with a sample of 559 New Jersey adults and a margin of error of +/- 4.1%. 

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