Republicans and Democrats are very much alike in the ways they follow the news despite their differing opinions of the media, according to a report released today by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration of the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
People on both ends of the political spectrum are equally likely to pay for news, to get news from social media, to seek news out actively rather than obtain it passively, and to get news multiple times a day. Democrats and Republicans are also equally likely to use local news sources, and they tend to follow similar topics, the report finds.
Yet, Republicans and even independents tend to be less satisfied than Democrats with the sources they use. Democrats, for instance, are more likely than Republicans or independents to say the news sources they use are reliable. Democrats are also more likely than Republicans or independents to say the news sources they pay for are a good value.
"Although Republicans and independents are more skeptical of the media than Democrats, people on either end of the political spectrum are consuming news in quite similar ways," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. "The political divisions facing the country present real challenges for the news industry as it tries to find a sustainable path forward. But the idea that Republicans and independents are consuming news entirely differently, or consuming entirely different news sources, isn't true."
Key findings from the report include:
- Democrats and Republicans follow a range of news topics at strikingly similar rates. They are equally likely to follow news about national politics (61 percent vs. 64 percent), local politics (15 percent vs. 13 percent), and their town or neighborhood (16 percent vs. 19 percent).
- There are few differences when it comes to technology use for news among Democrats, Republicans, and independents. They are about equally likely to get news from cell phones (86 percent, 84 percent, and 85 percent) and computers (66 percent, 65 percent, and 63 percent), while independents are a little less likely to get news from televisions (84 percent, 85 percent, and 78 percent).
- Democrats are more likely than Republicans and independents to trust information from the media a lot (30 percent, 8 percent, and 12 percent).
- Among those who pay for news, 73 percent of Democrats say their paid source is very or extremely reliable versus 56 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans.
- Independents are less likely than Democrats and Republicans to watch, read, hear, or see news at least several times a day (61 percent vs. 72 percent and 71 percent).
- Democrats who pay for news are more likely than Republicans who pay to say the source they subscribe to is a very good value (45 percent vs. 30 percent).
"The results indicate that people who identify themselves as Democrats versus Republicans share the same basic approach to and appetite for news," said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. "The real differences in behavior are found between people who identify with one of the two major political parties and those who consider themselves independents or nonpartisans."
About the report
This research comes from two recent Media Insight Project surveys. The first, a study about subscribing to news, interviewed 2,199 American adults from February 16 through March 20, 2017. The second is a study of people's trust in news from the media in general versus their trust in the news they use most often, which is based on interviews with 2,036 American adults from March 8 through March 27, 2017. This latter study employed an experiment where half of the respondents were asked questions about "the news media" generally, while the other half were asked the same questions about "the news media they use most often." Both surveys used AmeriSpeak®, NORC's probability-based panel.
Details about the Media Insight Project can be found at: http://www.mediainsight.org.
A full description of the study methodology for the surveys can be found at the end of the report.
The proper description of the survey's authorship is as follows: This study was conducted jointly by the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
About the Media Insight Project
The Media Insight Project is a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research with the objective of conducting high-quality, innovative research meant to inform the news industry and the public about various important issues facing journalism and the news business. The Media Insight Project brings together the expertise of both organizations and their respective partners, and involves collaborations among key staff at the American Press Institute, NORC at the University of Chicago, and The Associated Press.
About the American Press Institute
The American Press Institute (API) conducts research and training, convenes thought leaders, and creates tools to help chart a path ahead for journalism in the 21st century. API is an educational nonadvocacy 501(c)3 nonprofit organization affiliated with the News Media Alliance. It aims to help the news media–especially local publishers and newspaper media–advance in the digital age.
About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research
The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world.
The Associated Press (AP) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP.
NORC at the University of Chicago is an objective and non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. http://www.norc.org
The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.
Contacts: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at [email protected] or 703-217-6814 (cell); Ray Boyer for NORC at [email protected] or 312-330-6433; Laurie Beth Harris for API at [email protected] or 571-366-1044; Tom Rosenstiel for API at [email protected] or 571-366-1035.