A new survey conducted by American company Gallup has suggested that as opposed to the common belief in modern times that ‘the internet is the place for news’, it is still television that dominates the realm of news consumption in the USA.
The survey, conducted on a sample of 2,048 ‘national adults’ between 20-24 June, suggested that around 55% of Americans named television as their ‘primary source’ when it comes to news, with just 21% using the internet in a similar manner. An even more meagre figure of 9% claimed that the printed word (such as newspapers) still held lead relevance to their news consumption, while even smaller numbers were noted for other formats such as radio.
The investigation also broke down those results into a detailed analysis of numerous sources (such as the trends for news consumption between employed and unemployed people (pictured), that saw). One of the questions addressed by the pollsters was if specific news outlets were used within the ‘TV’ medium, with 8% claiming that Fox News filled that role to them, followed by CNN (7%), and ‘local news stations’ (4%) as the only other notable preferences, with all other major names such as ABC, BBC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, and Univision amongst the many sources on 1% (or less).
In addition, a further breakdown of the two major channels cited above proved many stereotypes correct, with 67% of Republican supporters choosing Fox News as their leading source of headlines (as well as 97% of people who ‘disapprove’ the work of President Barack Obama), while CNN, although slightly liberal-leaning with all their percentages, offered a much more even spread than its rival.
Away from the biggest names, meanwhile, it was recognised that the newspaper industry and its struggles in the ‘digital age’ was fairly well reflected in the survey, with the demographic of ‘seniors’ claiming print as their main source, but with just, 6-8% of ‘younger age groups’ saying the same, with radio a similarly falling platform.
For TV, however, the news industry looks set to be the most important location for ‘headline discovery’ for a while to come, as high figures were noted as being consistent across all age groups, but with a much smaller audience than anticipated for internet story consumption, was there any point in writing this article considering 4 in 5 people should have already known about it before coming online? For a full look at the statistics discovered by Gallup, their official press release on the findings can be seen below:
PRINCETON, NJ — Television is the main place Americans say they turn to for news about current events (55%), leading the Internet, at 21%. Nine percent say newspapers or other print publications are their main news source, followed by radio, at 6%.
These results are based on a Gallup poll of 2,048 national adults conducted June 20-24, in which Americans were asked to say, unaided, what they consider to be their main source of news about U.S. and global events.
More than half the references to television are general, with 26% simply saying they watch television or TV news, 4% saying they watch local TV news, and 2% saying they watch the “evening news.” The two leading 24-hour cable news channels — Fox News and CNN — are named by 8% and 7%, respectively. However, no other specific channel — including MSNBC, PBS, BBC, and all of the U.S. broadcast networks that once dominated the news landscape — is mentioned by more than 1% of Americans.
The vast majority of those citing the Internet — 18% of all Americans — either mention the Internet generally or say they get their news “online.” Two percent identify Facebook, Twitter, or social media as their source, while 1% mention a specific online news site.
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are each named by 1% of Americans — the only specific print publications to earn as much as 1% in the poll.
As a measure of U.S. adults’ perception of their primary news source, the question provides insights into the importance of various types of media and news outlets as information sources to the public. It is not meant to indicate the total reach each news outlet has in the population, nor do the results necessarily correspond with television ratings data.
TV Is Primary News Source for All Age Groups
If the current media preferences of young adults are any indicator of the future, the data offer good news for TV, but bad news for print media. Half of adults aged 18 to 29 and half aged 30 to 49 identify television as their main source of news. This is nearly double the rate for the Internet even among these more tech-savvy populations. However, it does differ from older generations who put relatively more emphasis on TV and less on the Internet.
At the same time, heavy reliance on print is exclusive to seniors, among whom 18% cite newspapers or other print publications as their main source of news. By contrast, 6% to 8% of younger age groups rely on print.
Few adults of any age say their main source of news is radio. While many Americans certainly tune in to radio for entertainment as well as talk radio, it is clearly not the place most turn for hard news about current events.
In additional to older Americans, highly educated Americans — college postgraduates — put the most emphasis on newspapers or other print publications, with 19% naming it as their main source of news. However, this drops to 7% among college graduates, 8% among those with only some college education, and 7% among those with no college experience.
Employment Also a Key Determinant of News Choices
Working Americans — those employed, either full or part time — are much more likely than those not currently working to identify the Internet as their main source of news, 26% vs. 15%. Those not working prefer television at a correspondingly higher rate; nevertheless, television is the top choice among both groups.
Additionally, employed adults are more likely to cite radio as their primary news source, likely reflecting the listening habits of some commuters.
Republicans Lean Most Toward TV; Democrats Are Heaviest Print Users
Gallup also finds slight partisan differences in where Americans choose to get their news, although television dominates among all three major groups.
On a relative basis, Republicans are more likely than independents or Democrats to say their main source of news is television. At the same time, independents rely the most of the three groups on the Internet, while Democrats put the most emphasis on print.
Fox News is a clear driver of Republicans’ higher tendency to turn to television for their news, with 20% versus 6% of independents and 1% of Democrats, naming it as their main news source. No other television, print, or online news source generates as much loyalty from either Democrats or independents. The closest is CNN, named by 10% of Democrats, 6% of independents, and 4% of Republicans.
Fox and CNN Viewers Differ Demographically, Politically
Underscoring the different partisan preferences of those who rely on Fox News vs. CNN for their news, the demographic and political profile of Americans who name each as their top news source are highly distinct. For example, nearly two-thirds of Fox News-oriented news consumers are 50 and older, compared with barely a third of CNN-oriented news consumers: 66% vs. 35%. Relatedly, 69% of the Fox News group is married, versus 37% of the CNN group.
Additionally, core CNN viewers are more likely than core Fox News viewers to be male, while core Fox News viewers are much more likely than core CNN viewers to be white, Protestant, attend church weekly, and to earn $75,000 or more per year.
The demographic profile of Americans who name Fox News as their main news source is similar to the profile of Republicans, and for good reason. Two-thirds of core Fox News viewers identify themselves as Republican, and 94% either identify as or lean Republican. By contrast, 46% of core CNN viewers identify as Democrat, and 63% identify as or lean Democratic.
Relatedly, 79% of the Fox News group describes their political views as conservative, 17% as moderate, and 2% as liberal. Among the CNN group, 21% are conservative, 51% are moderate, and 26% are liberal. Just 2% of the Fox News group, compared with 57% of the CNN group, approves of the job President Barack Obama is doing.
Americans have an abundance of sources at their disposal for acquiring news, and accordingly, Gallup received various answers when asking respondents what they consider to be their main source. Still, the television medium leads all others, and by a wide margin over the Internet, while print and radio lag well behind. This does not mean Americans get no news from print, radio, or to a lesser degree the Internet; just that relatively few see these as their main source.
The poll also documents the balkanization of news, primarily based on politics, but also to a lesser degree by age and education. Republicans have a strong orientation toward Fox News and Democrats lean somewhat more toward CNN and various other news outlets. Younger Americans seek out Internet news more than other age groups, and highly educated Americans tend more than other groups to get their news the old-fashioned way, reading a newspaper or magazine.
Scientific polling has been around for less than a century, but had it existed from the nation’s start, it surely would have documented dramatic changes in how Americans receive information about national and global events, shifting from word of mouth, to pamphlets and newspapers, to magazines. The advent of radio ushered in the modern era of people experiencing the news together, herding families into their living rooms. This was eventually replaced by the television set. Today, the Internet is ascending, but it remains to be seen if it will displace television as much as it will newspapers. Right now, the Internet is strongest among younger, working Americans, but presumably, this will change as the population ages. At the same time, newspapers strongest market, seniors, will disappear, leaving the future of that medium in serious doubt.
This is the first time Gallup has measured Americans’ media habits with this particular open-ended question, but in 1957, Gallup approached the same issue by asking: If you had to give up one of these — radio, television, the newspaper, or magazines — which one would be the hardest for you to give up? Americans at that time were most likely to name television, at 45%, followed by newspapers (27%), radio (21%), and magazines (4%).