Public opinion on investigative reporting in the 1990s: Has anything changed since the 1980s?

Lars Willnat, David H. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In view of the recent developments in public attitudes toward the use of investigative reporting, this study compares past findings on perceived public importance of investigative reporting and the acceptability of different reporting methods with findings from a national telephone survey of 1,211 respondents conducted in February 1997 by Princeton Survey Research Associates. While past studies only found weak relationships between approval of investigative reporting and respondents' individual-level characteristics, this study hypothesizes that the increased use of these techniques in popular television shows and local evening news has created a highly divided audience which, while paying great attention to reports that use investigative reporting techniques, either strongly approves or disapproves of their use. Findings indicate that the best predictor for whether people approve or disapprove of investigative reporting is their general attitude toward the media's role in society, rather than increased exposure to investigative news stories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-463
Number of pages15
JournalJournalism and Mass Communication Quaterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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