Dec 10, 2019
In this report, the authors use survey data to explore how U.S. media consumers use news platforms (e.g., print, television, social media, internet), the relationships between these profiles, and consumers' perceptions of the reliability of news. Findings include that consumers are mixed in their perceptions of news reliability and that partisanship broadly shapes news consumption behavior and willingness to seek differing viewpoints.
In this report, the authors explore novel measures of how U.S. media consumers obtain news. They examine the combinations and relative levels of use of different news delivery platforms (e.g., print, broadcast television, social media, internet), and the relationships between these "news consumption profiles" and (1) consumers' perceptions of the reliability of news overall and of news platforms, (2) consumers' use of perceived reliable platforms, and (3) their willingness to seek out news from differing viewpoints. The study relies on survey data from the nationally representative RAND American Life Panel and further identifies sociodemographic and political partisanship factors associated with news media consumption characteristics.
Many people (41 percent) indicated that they believed that news has become less reliable than in the past; a similar number (44 percent) said they believed there has been no change; and 15 percent said they thought news is more reliable now. Perceptions of changes in news reliability were linked to patterns of accessing the news (platforms used and whether people sought out differing viewpoints in news coverage). Broadcast and cable television were perceived by the greatest number of people to be the most-reliable ways to get news. Social media and in-person communication were perceived as the most-reliable sources by the smallest number of respondents. Except for individuals who got most of their news from social media or in-person communication, and for individuals who believe the news to be generally less reliable now than in the past, people generally reported getting news from sources they rated as among the most reliable. Finally, political partisanship was broadly linked to news consumption behaviors: consumption profiles, perceptions of news reliability, and willingness to seek out news from differing viewpoints.
News Consumption and Attitudes Toward Media: Review of Past Work
News That People Consume: News Consumption Profiles
Ranked Data Factor Analysis Procedure
Study Descriptive Statistics
Trust in Institutions and News Consumption