Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Internet News Takes Off

Section 5: Attitudes Toward the News

Overwhelmingly, Americans place a premium on accuracy and timeliness and, to a somewhat lesser degree, information that is helpful and hard to find. Fully 90% say that it is important that the news is accurate; 88% say it is important for the news to be timely and up-to-date. Over three-quarters (78%) want the news to provide facts and information they can’t get elsewhere, and almost as many value news that contains information that is helpful in their daily lives.

A clear majority of the public (58%) also values caring news personalities and wants news that fits easily into their schedules. Fewer but still substantial numbers like the news to be entertaining and emotional (42% and 30%, respectively). Personable, enjoyable and emotional news is valued more by women and those without college degrees than by men and the college-educated. Women also rate news that fits into their day higher than men do.

Warm and Emotional News …

While emotionally moving news is not widely valued by the general public, this quality along with a caring anchor are significant in shaping the viewing habits of those who do value them. Americans who say it is important to have news that is emotionally stirring and presented by caring news anchors watch local, network and news magazine shows much more regularly than do those who do not rank these qualities as high. Fully 70% of those who value caring news personalities are regular viewers of local news; only 47% of those who disagree fall into this category.

These attitudinal differences do not extend to regular viewership of the all-news cable networks. Americans who value emotional news and caring anchors are not substantially more likely to be regular viewers of CNN, CNBC and MSNBC than those who do not.

Other Findings

  • Americans who identify with a political party enjoy following the news more than those who do not: 54% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats enjoy the news a lot, compared to 41% of Independents.
  • When asked where they would turn first for information about breaking news, Americans choose television over print. CNN is the single outlet most often mentioned for national, international and health news. When the subject turns to sports, ESPN is first.
  • Americans who do not watch the nightly and late television news — 40% of the public — are much less likely than viewers to say that the television does a good job summing up the day’s events, by a margin of 52% to 77% for the evening news and 36% to 77% for the late night news.
  • Regular newspaper readers are more tied to this daily habit than are morning television news viewers. Fully 60% of newspaper readers say they would miss it a lot; just 48% of those who begin their day with television news express this view.
  • The young are least loyal to their morning news routine. Fully 69% of 18-24 year olds who start their day with the news express little concern about missing it, compared to only 44% of those age 65 and over.
  • Fully 82% of the Constant audience begins their day with news. In contrast, 46% of the Very Occasional audience starts a typical day with news.
  • The Constant audience opts for television news over newspaper, radio or the Internet at all times of the day. Conversely, when the Very Occasional audience gets news during the morning or daytime, it is largely from the radio.
  • The Serious News audience stands out because they read the morning paper at higher rates than do the other groups and are heavier users of morning radio news. They are also much less likely than most to watch the news around the dinner hour or late in the evening.
  • Less than half (47%) of the Basically Broadcast audience watches the news with a remote control in hand. In contrast, 73% of the tabloid audience are clickers.
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