US Public Wants Tighter Restraint on News

THE American public gives high marks to the news organizations for war coverage but wants increased control of how the news is covered, a Times Mirror survey reports. A 57 percent majority says that the military should increase its control over reporting of the war, while 34 percent believe that editorial decisions should be left to the news media.

Nearly eight in 10 Americans (78 percent) say they believe the military is not hiding bad news from them and is telling as much as it can under the circumstances. And 72 percent believe that news organizations are attempting to deliver to the public an objective picture of the conflict.

Americans of all ages, from all parts of the country offer somber views of the war. But the conflict in the Persian Gulf appears to be having a far greater effect on women than on men. Among women, 41 percent said they were not happy compared to 23 percent of the men. America's mood reflects the effect of massive television coverage of the first war to be brought into living rooms on a real-time basis. Higher news ratings and newspaper sales indicate that Americans are staying close to the news. Only 5 percent say they are not following events closely.

Broadcasts of Iraqi-censored news is the only American news media practice that comes under fire from the public. A 45 percent plurality of the public disapproves of news organizations broadcasting news from Iraq that has been censored by the Iraqi government, while 43 percent approve.

Overall, 79 percent approve of the way President Bush is doing his job and 73 percent feel that the United States made the right decision in using force against Iraq. Only 3 percent of Americans say they have attended a peace rally compared to the 9 percent who say they have attended a rally in support of the US war effort.

The survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted among 924 adults during the period Jan. 25-27.

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