Nevada legislators think there is too little news coverage of state government by both the print and broadcast media, and they are dissatisfied with the quality of what coverage there is, according to a recent survey by Dennis Soden and Richard Nielsen of UNLV's Southwest Social Science Research Center.
The survey, conducted this past spring, was mailed to all 63 members of the Nevada Legislature. The questionnaires were returned by 37 respondents (58.7 percent).
According to the researchers' summary of findings, their intent was to develop a better understanding of how Nevada legislators work with the news media.
The survey was part of a larger study that questioned legislators in Utah, Virginia, Florida, Washington, and Oregon. A detailed report, comparing the responses of Nevada legislators to those of other states, will be published at a later date.
The survey found that, overall, Nevada legislators believe increased media coverage would be beneficial for the operation of state government.
Some 75 percent of the respondents said increased television coverage would make it easier to conduct their legislative responsibilities, and most agreed that having television cameras present would affect the behavior of legislators in a number of settings.
The survey report indicates that more than 85 percent of respondents support the use of television cameras in legislative chambers, and more than a third of them believe that their past experiences with television have led to increased support levels. Most believe public confidence would be strengthened by an increase in television coverage.
Although gavel-to-gavel coverage of the legislative session is strongly supported by a third of the respondents and more than two-thirds support the concept, most indicated that they believe both print and broadcast media are biased and inaccurate.
Respondents indicated they believe that friends, neighbors, public meetings, and other legislators provide more valuable information for making decisions than do the news media. Most also felt that the best way to maintain contact with their constituents is through personal contacts and newsletters.