Michael Barthel

5 key takeaways about the state of the news media in 2018

Some key findings about the state of the news media in 2018:

5 facts about the state of the news media in 2017

Every year since 2004, Pew Research Center has issued an annual assessment of the state of the news media that tracks key audience and economic indicators for a variety of sectors within the US news media industry. Here are the key findings for 2017:

The news that bots share on Twitter tends not to focus on politics

Since the 2016 US presidential election, much attention has been focused on the role of bots in promoting political news on Twitter. But bots can play a role in spreading many other types of news and information as well. This study finds that suspected bots are far more active in sharing links to news sites focusing on nonpolitical content than to sites with a political focus. Some findings:

Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News

In today’s fast-paced and complex information environment, news consumers must make rapid-fire judgments about how to internalize news-related statements – statements that often come in snippets and through pathways that provide little context. A new Pew Research Center survey examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that’s capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it.

State of the News Media: Newspapers Fact Sheet

Since 2004, Pew Research Center has issued an annual report on key audience and economic indicators for a variety of sectors within the US news media industry. On June 13, 2018, Pew released the Newspapers Fact Sheet

Almost seven-in-ten Americans have news fatigue, more among Republicans

Almost seven-in-ten Americans (68%) feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days, compared with only three-in-ten who say they like the amount of news they get. The portion expressing feelings of information overload is in line with how Americans felt during the 2016 presidential election, when a majority expressed feelings of exhaustion from election coverage. While majorities of both Republicans and Democrats express news fatigue, Republicans are feeling it more.

Americans’ Attitudes About the News Media Deeply Divided Along Partisan Lines

Democrats and Republicans, who already tend to place their trust in different news sources and rely on different outlets for political news, now disagree more than ever on a fundamental issue of the news media’s role in society: whether news organizations’ criticism of political leaders primarily keeps them from doing things they shouldn’t – or keeps them from doing their job.

Today, in the early days of the Trump administration, roughly nine-in-ten Democrats (89%) say news media criticism keeps leaders in line (sometimes called the news media’s “watchdog role”), while only about four-in-ten Republicans (42%) say the same. That is a 47-percentage-point gap, which stands in sharp contrast to January-February 2016, when Americans were asked the same question. Then, in the midst of the presidential primary season, nearly the same share of Democrats (74%) and Republicans (77%) supported the watchdog role. This partisan split is found in other attitudes about the news media, though none in so dramatic a fashion as with the watchdog role. Compared with 2016, Democrats and Republicans are more divided on whether the press favors one side in its political coverage, on how much trust they have in national news media, and on how good a job national news organizations are doing in keeping them informed.

Most Say Tensions Between Trump Administration and News Media Hinder Access to Political News

Following a presidential campaign season characterized by regular conflicts between Donald Trump and the news media and the continuation of these tensions since President Trump took office, nearly all Americans have taken notice, and large majorities feel these tensions are causing problems. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 94% of Americans say they have heard about the current state of the relationship between the Trump administration and the news media. And what they’ve seen does not reassure them: Large majorities feel the relationship is unhealthy and that the ongoing tensions are impeding Americans’ access to important political news. Moreover, both of these concerns are widely shared across nearly all demographic groups, including large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans.

About eight-in-ten Americans (83%) say current tensions have made the relationship between the administration and the news media unhealthy; just 15% say it is healthy despite current tensions. Americans also think these tensions are impacting them directly. About three-in-four U.S. adults (73%) say that these tensions are getting in the way of access to important national political news and information.

For election news, young people turned to some national papers more than their elders

Younger Americans have long been less likely to read newspapers than their elders. But a Pew Research Center survey has revealed a significant twist, at least for certain newspapers with a more national focus: When we asked people if they regularly got news about the 2016 presidential election through either the print or online version of four specific US newspapers, three of these papers – The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal – attracted more adults younger than 50 than 50 and older as regular readers. As for the fourth – USA Today – younger and older Americans regularly got election news there at about the same rate.

This reinforces earlier findings that when asked about reading, watching or listening to news, younger Americans are more likely than their elders to prefer reading it – though they overwhelmingly prefer to do this reading online. And the new data suggest that the digital outreach efforts for these national newspaper brands may have attracted enough younger online readers to overcome a long-standing age gap for newspapers.

Trump, Clinton Voters Divided in Their Main Source for Election News

According to a new Pew Research Center survey, Americans who say they voted for Donald Trump in the general election relied heavily on Fox News as their main source of election news leading up to the 2016 election, whereas Hillary Clinton voters named an array of different sources, with no one source named by more than one-in-five of her supporters. The survey was conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 12, 2016, among 4,183 adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel.

When voters were asked to write in their “main source” for election news, four-in-ten Trump voters named Fox News. The next most-common main source among Trump voters, CNN, was named by only 8% of his voters. Clinton voters, however, did not coalesce around any one source. CNN was named more than any other, but at 18% had nowhere near the dominance that Fox News had among Trump voters. Instead, the choices of Clinton voters were more spread out. MSNBC, Facebook, local television news, NPR, ABC, The New York Times and CBS were all named by between 5% and 9% of her voters. What’s more, though Fox News tops the list of sources among Trump voters, only 3% of Clinton voters named it as their main source.