Nearly half of college students believe in curtailing the news media’s access to campus events in certain scenarios, such as when protesters want to be left alone (48 percent), when they believe a reporter will be biased (49 percent), and when they want to tell the story themselves on social media (44 percent), a new Gallup survey has found.
The survey, financed by John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute, examined college students’ perceptions of the security of their First Amendment rights on campuses and their views of the news media and social media.
College students are confident in the protections afforded to them by the First Amendment, much more so than a majority of American adults, the survey found. That divide is most prominent in views on freedom of speech (56 percent among adults vs. 73 percent among students), freedom of the press (64 percent vs. 81 percent), and freedom to petition the government (58 percent vs. 76 percent).
While more than 75 percent of students believe colleges should expose students to all types of speech and viewpoints, a majority of students believe campus climates prevent people from saying what they believe out of fears of offending others.
Fifty-nine percent of students are also critical of the news media’s ability to fairly and accurately report the news, while views on social media vary. Eight in 10 students in the survey agreed that social media allows people to have control of their own story and to express their views. Less than half of students, though, said that conversations on social media are civil, and 74 percent believe it’s too easy to hide behind anonymity.
Students’ skepticism of the news media was highlighted during the turmoil at the University of Missouri at Columbia last fall, when some people tried to limit reporters’ access to an encampment of protesters, and instead tell the story on social media.
See also: “What Students Think About Free Speech”