I received yesterday a copy of the survey of public attitudes towards conduct in public life carried out by BMRB Social Research for the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The survey, conducted earlier this year, covers the media as well as politicians. Its findings on the media tend to reinforce the points made in my earlier post on confidence in the press.
The survey found that the public get their greatest exposure to news about politics from news programmes on TV and radio. Respondents distinguished quite clearly the broadsheet newspapers from the tabloids. Of those questioned, 51 per cent thought that the broadsheets maintained high standards; the figure for the tabloids was 32 per cent. Perhaps most relevant to my earlier post, 49 per cent thought standards had got worse with the tabloids; 34 per cent thought the same about the broadsheets.
The broadsheets were rated higher than the tabloids for doing a good job in keeping politicians accountable for their conduct. Well over 80 per cent thought that the tabloids looked for any excuse to tarnish the name of politicians and that they focused on negative stories about politics and politicians. Almost 90 per cent thought that the tabloids were more interested in getting a story than telling the truth.
The survey covered a wide terrain. It can be read in full at:
I may do a later post on its findings about politicians. Though it surveys opinions on MPs, ministers and public office holders, it appears not to ask about peers as a distinct category of politician or public official. I think we have reason to feel aggrieved. We do not operate in a vacuum and if we are to do our job well it is important to know what people feel about the way we are operating and the standards they expect us to maintain.