A new Pew Research Center analysis explores how best to measure public news consumption — asking which current survey practices work well and where changes might be in order.
A culmination of a yearlong effort, the analysis looks at the U.S. public’s familiarity with newer concepts related to news and possible ways to improve survey-based measures of news consumption.
Among the findings:
• Only 9% of U.S. adults are “very confident” they can tell if a news organization does its own reporting, though just over half (55%) say they are at least “pretty confident.” When asked whether six sources do their own news reporting (ABC News, Wall Street Journal, HuffPost, Google News, Apple News and Facebook), nearly a quarter of U.S. adults (23%) could not identify correctly whether any of the six sources do so.
• Americans are familiar with newer digital platforms, but few use them for news, limiting the topics researchers can reasonably ask about in surveys. The survey finds that while U.S. adults are broadly familiar with five newer digital technologies asked about in the survey (streaming devices, internet streaming services, push notifications and alerts, smart speakers, smartwatches), few say they use them regularly for news consumption, and results from the cognitive interviews suggest that many don’t even think of these platforms as ways to get news.
• While there is no “silver bullet” for perfect survey measures of news consumption, the split-form survey experiments reveal that a series of refinements could drive marginal improvements, such as around the goal of reducing overreporting of news consumption.