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Poll: Americans fault news media for dividing country



WASHINGTON (AP) — When it comes to the news media and the impact it’s having on democracy and political polarization in the United States, Americans are likelier to say it’s doing more harm than good.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults say the news media is increasing political polarization in this country, and just under half say they have little to no trust in the media’s ability to report the news fairly and accurately, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

The poll, released before World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, shows Americans have significant concerns about misinformation — and the role played by the media itself along with politicians and social media companies in spreading it — but that many are also concerned about growing threats to journalists’ safety.

“The news riles people up,“ said 53-year-old Barbara Jordan, a Democrat from Hutchinson, Kansas. Jordan said she now does her own online research instead of going by what she sees on the TV news. “You’re better off Googling something and learning about it. I trust the internet more than I do the TV.”


That breakdown in trust may prompt many Americans to reject the mainstream news media, often in favor of social media and unreliable websites that spread misleading claims and that can become partisan echo chambers, leading to further polarization.

While a slim majority of Americans say they have some degree of confidence in the news media’s ability to report the news fully and fairly, only 16% say they are very confident. Forty-five percent say they have little to no confidence at all.

The survey reveals the complicated relationship many Americans have with the media: A majority rate in-depth and investigative reporting as very helpful or extremely helpful for understanding the issues they care about, but they are more likely to say they regularly scan the headlines than read an in-depth investigative article. And while overall trust in the media is low, a majority of respondents say the media is doing at least somewhat well in covering issues they care about.

Four in 10 say the press is doing more to hurt American democracy, while only about 2 in 10 say the press is doing more to protect it. An additional 4 in 10 say neither applies.


Partisan cable news outlets and social media platforms have driven the problem by conditioning many Americans to see one another as enemies, said Joe Salegna, a Republican who lives on Long Island, New York.

“I think it’s tearing this country apart,“ Salegna, 50, told the AP. ”Since the 2016 election I think it’s gotten a lot worse.”

Republicans view the news media less favorably than Democrats, with 61% of Republicans saying the news media is hurting democracy, compared with 23% of Democrats and 36% of independents who don’t lean toward either party. Majorities across party lines say the news media fuels political division, but Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say that’s happening a lot.

And more Republicans think the news is strongly influenced by the U.S. government and the political views of journalists.

Coverage of recent presidential elections, the coronavirus pandemic, protests against police killings of Black Americans and other events convinced Janis Fort that the media can’t be believed. One station will cover a story that others ignore, she said, leaving viewers not sure whom to trust.

“Everyone tells a different story. The media does nothing but stir up fear,“ said Fort, a retired 71-year-old Republican who lives in Navarre, Florida. “For me, and for most of the people I know, we feel like we’re totally in the dark.”

Research has shown that fragmentation of the media ecosystem, driven largely by the internet, has contributed to polarization. Experts say America’s heightened political divisions have a number of causes — gerrymandering that reduces political competition, for example, or politicians who stoke fear and distrust — but media fragmentation and misinformation are making a clear impact, too.

“We should be concerned for the health of democracy,“ said Joshua Tucker, a political scientist at New York University who studies partisanship and co-directs NYU’s Center for Social Media.

Concern about the threat posed by misinformation unites Americans of both parties, with about 9 in 10 U.S. adults saying misinformation is a problem. A third of American adults say they see stories with false claims from politicians or misleading headlines every day.

“There still is good journalism, it’s just the internet has made it so that anybody can be a quote-unquote journalist,” said Chris Nettell, of Hickory Creek, Texas, who said he leans Democratic. “We have some news media that only goes after a certain segment of society, and then those people think, because it’s all they read, that everyone else believes it too.”

Social media plays a key role, with nearly two-thirds of respondents saying that when they see a news story on social media, they expect it to be inaccurate. Those who said they rely on social media regularly for their news were somewhat more likely to trust it than others.

Overall, about 6 in 10 said the news media bears blame for the spread of misinformation, and a similar percentage also said it has a large amount of responsibility for addressing it. Majorities also think others, including social media companies and politicians, share in the responsibility both for the spread of misinformation and for stopping it from spreading.


“So many people get their information from social media, and people believe whatever they want to believe,” said Araceli Cervantes, a 39-year-old Chicago woman and mother of four who said she is a Republican.

When it comes to protecting the freedom of the press in the U.S., 44% of respondents say the U.S. government is doing a good job, more than the 24% who say it’s doing a bad job. Most Americans are at least somewhat concerned, however, when it comes to the safety of journalists, with roughly a third saying they’re very concerned or extremely concerned about attacks on the press.


The poll of 1,002 adults was conducted March 30-April 3 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.



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Judge in FTX bankruptcy rejects media challenge, says customer names can remain secret – Yahoo Canada Finance



DOVER, Del. (AP) — The names of individual customers of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX Trading can be permanently shielded from public disclosure, a Delaware bankruptcy judge ruled Friday.

Following a two-day hearing, Judge John Dorsey rejected arguments from lawyers for several media outlets and for the U.S. bankruptcy trustee, which serves as a government watchdog in Chapter 11 reorganization cases, challenging FTX’s request to keep the names of customers and creditors secret.

Dorsey ruled that customer identities constitute a trade secret. He also said FTX customers need to be protected from bad actors who might target them by scouring the internet and the “dark web” for their personal information.


“It’s the customers that are the most important issue here,” he said. “I want to make sure that they are protected and they don’t fall victim to any types of scams that might be happening out there.”

Katie Townsend, an attorney for the media outlets, had argued that the press and the public have a “compelling and legitimate interest” in knowing the names of those affected by the stunning collapse of FTX.

“That collapse sent shock waves not just through the cryptocurrency industry, but the entire financial industry,” Townsend said. “And at this point, we don’t even know where the shock waves, both individually and institutionally, have hit the hardest, and what institutions may have the largest, or no, exposure as a result.”

But lawyers for FTX and its official committee of unsecured creditors argued that its customer list is both a valuable asset and confidential commercial information. They contend that secrecy is needed to protect FTX customers from theft and potential scams, and to ensure that potential competitors do not “poach” FTX customers. FTX believes its customer list could prove valuable as part of any sale of assets, or as part of a reorganization.

“The debtors are in a position to realize value from these customer lists,” said FTX attorney Brian Glueckstein.

FTX entered bankruptcy in November when the global exchange ran out of money after the equivalent of a bank run. Founder Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to charges that he cheated investors and looted customer deposits to make lavish real estate purchases, campaign contributions to politicians, and risky trades at Alameda Research, his cryptocurrency hedge fund trading firm. Three former FTX executives have pleaded guilty to fraud charges and are cooperating with investigators.

In January, Dorsey ruled that FTX could redact the names of all customers, and the addresses and email addresses of non-individual customers, from court filings for 90 days. He also authorized FTX to permanently keep secret the addresses and email addresses of individual creditors and equity holders.

On Friday, the judge approved the permanent sealing of individual customer names and extended the secrecy regarding the names of institutional customers for another 90 days.

Dorsey refused, however, to continue to allow FTX to shield the names of individual creditors or equity holders who are citizens of the United Kingdom or European Union nations and covered under a consumer protection program known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. FTX sought similar treatment for individuals covered under Japanese data privacy laws.

Dorsey said that, in response to an objection from the U.S. trustee, FTX had presented no evidence to show that those foreign individuals might be harmed, or that FTX might be sanctioned, if their names are disclosed.

Dorsey also rejected a request by attorneys for an ad hoc committee of non-U.S. customers to keep the names of its members secret. If the committee wants to participate in the case, then the names of its members must be disclosed, he said.

According to redacted court filings, the ad hoc committee currently has 35 members, with estimated economic interests in FTX ranging from $64,434 to $1.5 billion. Dorsey noted that some members may decide to drop out based on his ruling.

Randall Chase, The Associated Press

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Liberals to direct CRTC to keep hands off social media with streaming regulation – National Post



User-generated content and content that is only available on social media platforms will be excluded under the proposed policy direction


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OTTAWA — The Liberal government will direct the CRTC not to regulate content from social media users as it implements the controversial Online Streaming Act.

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Content made by social media creators, and content that is only available on social media platforms, will be excluded under the proposed policy direction to the regulator.

“The proposed directions … deliver on public commitments by the Government to ensure that the Commission would only regulate social media platforms insofar as they are acting like broadcasters and not the social media elements of their services, which include any content created and uploaded by everyday users (commonly known as user-generated content),” the government said in documents made available to media.

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    Liberals vow to provide ‘greater clarity’ as controversial online streaming bill becomes law

  2. Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, speaks during a press conference to announce Montreal International's 2022 investment results, in Montreal, Feb. 20.

    Government has ‘options’ if Facebook, Google pull news content, minister says

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Controversy over the regulatory authority the CRTC would have over user-generated content — such as YouTube or TikTok videos posted by Canadians or digital creators — has followed the bill for two years. The Liberal government refused to exclude social media in Bill C-11 itself. Opponents maintained it was important to set the exclusion in law, for reasons including that considering future governments can reverse a policy direction to the CRTC more easily than they can change a law.

The Online Streaming Act became law just over a month ago. It sets up the CRTC to bring streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube into the Canadian content system that traditional broadcasters and TV providers already contribute to, ensuring more funding for the creation of Canadian content.

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The law itself limits the CRTC’s powers over user content to “discoverability” — directing digital platforms to showcase more Canadian content in the movies, TV shows and music they recommend to their users. The social media exclusion in the policy direction would mean those provisions wouldn’t apply to user posts on YouTube, for example, a prospect digital creators who depend on those platforms raised alarm about.

But discoverability powers would apply to content on other streaming platforms like Netflix or Disney+. The government said it would tell the CRTC to implement the “discoverability requirements in a way that minimizes the need to alter algorithms of broadcasting undertakings and that, where possible, increases choice for users.”

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Senior officials said in a technical briefing that an element of the policy direction acknowledges the CRTC could use its discoverability powers in a way that would lead platforms to alter their algorithms, and the idea is to minimize those cases.

The CRTC can’t tell a streaming service like Amazon Prime or Spotify to make specific changes to its algorithms. But it can say that they need to include more Canadian content in their recommendations or suggestions, which would require them change the algorithms that create those recommendations.

The CRTC will also be told to make redefining Canadian content a priority. That process would include “consulting with Canadians, members of the creative and production sectors and other interested parties.”

The government will hold a 45-day consultation on the draft policy direction before issuing a final version.

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Online streaming bill to leave out social media users, Ottawa tells CRTC – Global News



Canadians who make content online are to be excluded from future regulations that the Liberal government is imposing on digital giants, a new draft policy shows.

The government’s online streaming bill, which passed in April, aims to force platforms such as Netflix, YouTube and TikTok to contribute to and promote Canadian content — a requirement traditional broadcasters already follow.


But the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission must now develop regulations to implement the bill’s intentions.

Draft policy issued by the government on Thursday instructs the CRTC to leave out social media users, including local businesses, who upload content online, even if they use commercial songs.

For example, a person who records a makeup tutorial or dance trend while with a Harry Styles song in the background would not fall under the regulations.

Click to play video: 'Conservatives ‘think culture is what you find in a yogurt bottle’: Rodriguez'

Conservatives ‘think culture is what you find in a yogurt bottle’: Rodriguez

The draft policy states that the measures will not apply to such users because their content is mainly meant for the internet.

However, platforms like TikTok and YouTube will likely be regulated for streaming music promoted by record labels or commercial artists, when that content is also broadcast on other platforms — like on the radio.

A senior official within the Canadian Heritage Department said the key to understanding which broadcaster will be regulated is knowing if commercial content that is on their platform also appears in other media, such as on TV, radio or other digital streaming services.

For example, a television show can appear both on Netflix and on cable, and a live sports game could stream on social media platforms, TV and radio.

Click to play video: 'Bill C-11: The future of broadcasting and streaming in Canada'

Bill C-11: The future of broadcasting and streaming in Canada

YouTube, which has opposed the bill, said it is committed to keeping intact the ecosystem of its platform, which relies on creators.

“That’s something we’re committed to preserving,” a spokesperson for YouTube said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are reviewing the policy direction, and will continue to advocate for the interests of Canada’s digital creators and audiences through the remaining stages of this process.”

The draft policy said people who make local podcasts or stream video games online will also be excluded from the bill’s regulations, which are set to take shape over the summer before a final policy directive is released in the fall.

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Digital media giants that fall under the regulations will have to promote Canadian content, and are encouraged to put forward their own ideas on how they can do that.

The Canadian Heritage Department said it wants input from digital platforms on how they can promote Canadian content, but they say it could come in a variety of ways — from billboards promoting artists to designating sections of their sites to local music and stories.

The government’s draft policy states that the solution should minimize the need for companies to alter their algorithms in order to comply with the law.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who sponsored the bill, has said the law is intended to help highlight local stories and music on streaming platforms, many of which are based in the United States.

“We’ve said it from the start: if you benefit from the system, you should contribute to it. With the Online Streaming Act, we’re acting to support our creators, our artists, our independent producers and our culture so that they thrive in the digital age,” Rodriguez said in a statement Thursday.

Click to play video: 'How Bill C-11 could change streaming services in Canada'

How Bill C-11 could change streaming services in Canada

“Canadians deserve to see themselves in what they watch and listen to, and this legislation is an essential step forward in ensuring that our cultural industry and our talent shine.”

The government’s directive also asked the commission to prioritize parts of the bill dealing with redefining Canadian content, advancing Indigenous storytelling and achieving better representation from Black and LGBTQ communities.

The CRTC will hold public consultations in the weeks ahead, in which people will have the opportunity to provide input.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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