[Guest post by DRJ]
The Pew Research Center released a new study taken from April-June 2008 that analyzes where people get their news. The study classifies American news consumers into four groups:
Traditionalists (46%) who get news from regular TV newscasts.
Net-Newsers (13%) who get news primarily from online sources and avoid traditional news sources.
Integrators (23%) who get news from multiple sources.
Disengaged (14%) who have a low interest in news from any source.
The complete study is worth a quick read but what was most interesting to me were the “Other Key Findings:”
• In spite of the increasing variety of ways to get the news, the proportion of young people getting no news on a typical day has increased substantially over the past decade. About a third of those younger than 25 (34%) say they get no news on a typical day, up from 25% in 1998.
• A slim majority of Americans (51%) now say they check in on the news from time to time during the day, rather than get the news at regular times. This marks the first time since the question was first asked in 2002 that most Americans consider themselves “news grazers.”
• Social networking sites are very popular with young people, but they have not become a major source of news. Just 10% of those with social networking profiles say they regularly get news from these sites.
• As in past news consumption surveys, the audiences for specific cable news outlets remain divided along political lines. Currently 51% of regular CNN viewers are Democrats, up from 45% two years ago. Nearly four-in-ten regular Fox News viewers are Republicans (39%), about the same as in 2006.
Here are the details from the study:
Fox News Channel 39% Republican; 33% Democratic; 22% Independent; 6% Don’t Know
Nightly network news 22% Republican; 45% Democratic; 26% Independent; 7% Don’t Know
MSNBC 18% Republican; 45% Democratic; 27% Independent; 10% Don’t Know
CNN 18% Republican; 51% Democratic; 23% Independent; 8% Don’t Know
PBS NewsHour 21% Republican; 46% Democratic; 23% Independent; 10% Don’t Know
General public 25% Republican; 36% Democratic; 29% Independent; 10% Don’t Know
• Regular readers of magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper’s Magazine stand out for their high level of political knowledge. Nearly half (47%) answered three political knowledge questions correctly – the highest percentage of any news audience.
The 3 political knowledge questions were:
Which Party currently controls Congress? The Democratic Party.
Who is the US Secretary of State? Condoleezza Rice.
Who is the Prime Minister of Britain? Gordon Brown.
• Overall, 15% of Americans say they have a smart phone, such as an iPhone or a Blackberry. More than a third of smart phone owners (37%) say they get news from these devices.
• Believability ratings for national news organizations remain very low. If anything, believability ratings for major online news outlets – including news aggregators such as Google News and AOL News – are lower than for major print, cable and broadcast outlets.
• Though the audience for nightly network news broadcasts are smaller than they were a decade ago, regular viewers of these broadcasts are loyal. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say they would miss these broadcasts a lot if they were no longer available.
The study found certain groups pay particularly close attention to national news, including the regular audiences of Hardball with Chris Matthews, Hannity & Colmes, Lou Dobbs Tonight, and The O’Reilly Factor, as well as (page 39):
“Beyond the cable shows, other audiences that pay particularly close attention to national news include readers of magazines such as The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine and The New Yorker; Rush Limbaugh listeners, NPR listeners, and those who regularly watch the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer or the network Sunday morning news programs.”
Finally, people in every segment are interested in the weather (page 41), so we have that going for us.