Apr 10, 2014 9:00 am

What kinds of Supreme Court cases interest Americans? Not campaign finance

Last week’s Supreme Court decision to strike down limits on overall campaign contributions by individuals landed on front pages across the country, but the public was paying attention to other stories.

Public paid little attention to Supreme Court campaign finance case last week compared to missing Malaysia plane and other storiesJust 13% of American adults say they followed the campaign finance story “very closely” last week, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Roughly half (49%) say they followed the story “not at all closely,” which is the category in the survey that represents the lowest level of interest.

In part, the lack of attention might be related to the fact that there were other big stories dominating the news last week. Four weeks in, one-third of the country (33%) was still paying very close attention to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. In addition, about one-quarter very closely followed the shooting at Fort Hood, the situation between Russia and Ukraine and the health care rollout, which had just passed its March 31 deadline to sign up for coverage.

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Topics: Elections and Campaigns, News Interest, Supreme Court

Apr 10, 2014 7:00 am

Small digital news sites: young, lean and local

Although Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Ezra Klein’s new Vox.com generate considerable attention as representatives of the digital media future, they are in fact, not typical representatives of the native digital news landscape.  A new Pew Research Center State of the News Media analysis finds that the growing digital news world is largely comprised of hundreds of smaller sites, often local in scope, that are  working to fill gaps left by legacy reporting cuts.

Small digital news sitesWhile there is variation within this universe of digital native news outlets, our  analysis of 438 of them has found that many fit a different composite: The typical outlet is between four and six years old; editorially, it is focused on coverage of local or even neighborhood-level news; it is just as likely to operate as a nonprofit organization as for-profit model; and it has a lean full-time editorial staff of three or fewer people.

In total, these small digital operations have created about 2,000 of the roughly 5,000 full-time editorial jobs we identified in the digital news world, and they represent a growing and increasingly important part of a shifting media ecosystem. Here’s what they’re like:

  • Youth Shall Be Served. Exactly half of the 414 outlets for which we had a founding date came into existence from 2008 through 2010. Those are the years when about 11,000 newspaper newsroom jobs were lost as the economic recession took its toll. While the pace of small digital startups has slowed notably in recent years, 16% (65) of them were created between 2011 and the first few months of 2014. At the same time, several dozen of the outlets in the Pew Research accounting (28, or 7%) predate the year 2000. One such digital news graybeard is the 17-year-old Cape Cod Today.
  • A Lean Workforce. Small budgets tend to mean small staffs and that is the case for a large majority of the digital native news outlets. All totaled, nearly three-quarters (241) of the 329 sites for which we could determine staffing levels had three or fewer full-time editorial staffers. Indeed, the most common staffing level was three employees, which was the case at 128 (or 39%) of these sites. Another 63 outlets, or 19%, employed somewhere between five and 10 full-time staffers. The size of these organizations hews closely to the results of a Pew Research survey of nonprofit outlets in which slightly more than three-quarters of them reported having a total paid full-time staff (not simply editorial) of five or less.
  • Most News is Local. A slight majority (53% or 231) of the smaller digital natives in the sample identify themselves as having a general or local focus, with a local community sometimes defined as narrowly as a single neighborhood.  That close-to-home focus is not surprising, given the small staffs at these outlets. But the next biggest group of sites (45, or 10%) identify themselves as investigative outlets. Another 6% (28) focus primarily on the state or state government while about 6% (25) identify their focus as politics and public affairs. Few of these sites tend to focus in on events abroad (2%), but one of them, the Seattle Globalist, identifies itself as a “hyperglobal” news site.
  • Opting for the Nonprofit Model. Of the 402 outlets that identified a business model, slightly more than half (204) are nonprofits compared with 196 that are commercial entities. In recent years, the nonprofit model has attracted a significant amount of foundation funding for news gathering. The State of the News Medial 2014 report estimated that roughly $150 million in philanthropy now goes to journalism annually. Some of that is used as seed money for digital nonprofit news organizations: 61% of the nonprofit news organizations surveyed by Pew Research began with a large start-up grant. The goal for these organizations is ultimately finding a sustainable business model less reliant on big giving.

Topics: Digital Media, News Media Sectors, News Media Trends, Newsroom Investment and Resources, Non-Profit News, State of the News Media

Apr 9, 2014 1:39 pm

The Civil Rights Act at 50: Racial divides persist on how much progress has been made

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others look on
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others look on. (Credit: Photo by Cecil Stoughton, White House Press Office, via Wikimedia Commons)

One of the landmark pieces of legislation in the battle against discrimination was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law on July 2 of that year — an event that will be commemorated tomorrow with a keynote address by President Obama at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Tex.

President Kennedy had called on Congress in 1963 to take action on a broad civil rights measure, but it was only after his death that Johnson was able to win its passage.  More than half of Americans (58%) considered the act to be one of the most important events of 20th century, ranking fifth on a list of 18, according to a 1999 Gallup poll.

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Topics: African Americans, Discrimination and Prejudice, Race and Ethnicity

Apr 9, 2014 11:35 am

Data Feed: Rising state tax revenue, falling metro-area unemployment, what college students are really like

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.  Read More

Category: Data Feed

Apr 9, 2014 7:00 am

Asian American voter turnout lags behind other groups; some non-voters say they’re ‘too busy’

Asian-American voters lag whites and blacks in turnout in midterm electionsAbout three-in-ten Asian-American eligible voters have cast ballots in midterm elections since 1998, a much lower turnout rate than that of whites and blacks, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

With an estimated 9 million eligible voters in 2014, the Asian-American electorate for this fall’s midterm elections makes up 4% of all eligible voters. By contrast, Hispanics—the largest minority group—today make up 11.3% of all eligible voters. In the run-up to the 2012 president election, some analysts called the Asian-American electorate a potential swing vote, despite its relatively small size.

Immigrants make up 74% of the Asian-American adult population. Among eligible Asian-American voters– U.S. citizens ages 18 or older– immigrants vote about as often as the native born (31%-31%.)

In 2010, Asian-American voter turnout was 31%. That’s about the same as the turnout among Hispanics, and far below blacks (44%) and whites (49%). Turnout lagged even though the level of education and income of the Asian-American electorate, as a whole, is higher than for whites, blacks and Hispanics.

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Topics: 2014 Election, Asian Americans, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation

Apr 8, 2014 9:00 pm

In India, few use social media to share political views

Indians, politics and social mediaAs the month-long Indian national election begins this week, the use of social media and technology to get out the vote is an important part of the political parties’ strategy in vying for power. But even as India embraces technology in increasing numbers, only a small portion of its 1.2 billion people have access to the internet. And while about half of Indian internet users regularly access social networking sites, only about a third of these users share views about politics via social media.

Overall, only 16% of Indians say that they use the internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone. Of these internet users, 51% say they use social networking sites such as Facebook, Orkut and Twitter.  Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, World Elections

Apr 8, 2014 1:55 pm

Rising cost of child care may help explain recent increase in stay-at-home moms

ChildcareCosts_ChartA greater share of mothers are not working outside the home than at any time in the past two decades, according to a new Pew Research Center report. After declining for several decades — bottoming out at 23% around the turn of the century — the share of stay-at-home mothers has risen in fits and starts over the past decade and a half, to 29% in 2012, according to the Pew Research analysis of census data.

While there are many reasons driving this trend, one likely reason is the rising cost of child care. A 2010 Census paper (which focused on married stay-at-home mothers) commented that “[e]specially for mothers who have more than one child under 5, the cost of day care might be higher than she could support unless she has fairly high earnings.”

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Topics: Family Roles, Household and Family Structure, Parenthood, Work and Employment

Apr 8, 2014 11:23 am

Data Feed: A decade of campaign ads, gender gaps on wages and jobs, outlook for global growth

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.  Read More

Category: Data Feed

Apr 8, 2014 10:30 am

7 key findings about stay-at-home moms

1More moms are staying home: The share of mothers who do not work outside the home has risen over the past decade, reversing a long-term decline in stay-at-home mothers. (In the U.S. today, 71% of all mothers work outside the home.) Two-thirds are “traditional” married stay-at-home mothers with working husbands, but a growing share is unmarried.

share of stay at home moms over time

2Americans say a parent at home is best: Despite the fact that most mothers in the U.S. work at least part time, 60% of Americans say children are better off when a parent stays home to focus on the family, while 35% say they are just as well off when both parents work outside the home.

americans say a parent at home is best

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Topics: Family Roles, Household and Family Structure, Parenthood, Work and Employment

Apr 8, 2014 7:00 am

On Equal Pay Day, key facts about the gender pay gap

Today marks “Equal Pay Day,” the date that symbolizes how far into the new year the average American woman would have to work to earn what the average American man did in the previous year. With a new executive order issued today, President Obama and Democrats are hoping to peg the gender wage gap as a major issue ahead of the 2014 elections. This week, Senate Democrats also plan to again bring forward the proposed “Paycheck Fairness Act,” a bill that aims to eliminate the pay gap between female and male employees.

Both men and women see a need for moves such as this – 72% of women and 61% of men said “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace,” according to a Pew Research Center survey last fall. Read More

Topics: Gender, Work and Employment