Newspaper reporters have gained more respect for the intelligence of their readers and enjoy helping them. Readers, however, are skeptical of their newspapers' fairness.
That was the conclusion from two studies presented here at the 60th annual convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
A survey of 1,000 journalists - done by the Indiana University Journalism School - showed only 16 percent of the journalists believe their readers are gullible. The figure was a turnabout from previous decades, when reporters tended to be more cynical about the intelligence of readers. And 61 percent said helping people gave them the most satisfaction in their work.
But a survey of readers by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau gave the worst rating to newspapers' fairness and impartiality. Only 43 percent gave newspapers a good rating, while 32 percent thought that editorial opinions affected news coverage at least sometimes. ''The fact that fairness is our weakest point raises the question of whether the public thinks we keep editorial opinions separate from our news converage,'' the study said. One other note from the advertising bureau: The percentage of people watching television news on a daily basis has risen from 48 percent in 1971 to 67 percent last year. Television was the primary source of news for 45 percent of those surveyed.