Survey results: How you get your news and what it means

Last week, I created a survey intended to measure news consumption habits and then wrote about why I wanted to know and what I hoped to find out. A week and a day later, here are the results.

A total of 47 people took my survey — 16 males and 31 females. Here’s the age breakdown:

  • 18-34 —  34 people
  • 35-49 — 8 people
  • 50-64 — 4 people
  • 65 or older — 1

I asked respondents where they live, thinking that I would be able to study differences in news consumption habits by region. But since 78.72 percent of my respondents live in the Southeast, I’m afraid any differences I notice in other regions would not actually be representative of those regions. Here’s the location breakdown:

  • Southeast — 37
  • Northeast — 4
  • Midwest — 2
  • West — 2
  • Southwest — 0
  • Outside the continental U.S. — 2

I also asked for the highest level of education completed since I would imagine that there’s some correlation between education level and desire to be informed on current events and issues. But again, my results were skewed. It seems my social media connections are well educated (and spoiler alert: everyone keeps up with news in some form or another). Four completed some college; 31 hold a bachelor’s degree; and 12 have earned a post-graduate degree.

One person exited the survey at this point, after completing the basic demographic section. You’ll notice a few other questions that were skipped (it shows you at the top of the charts), but those were sort of random; there were no more mass skippings of questions.

Now, for the more interesting stuff. First, I asked about access/subscriptions to various media.

Eight subscribe to a newspaper; 22 subscribe to a magazine; 21 have no print product subscriptions.

Eight subscribe to a newspaper; 22 subscribe to a magazine; 21 have no have print subscriptions. That means a total of 25 people in this survey subscribe to at least one print product, and obviously a few of those people subscribe to both a newspaper and magazine.

digital products“None” was not in the vocabulary for those answering the digital product question. Forty-four said they have a smartphone; 31 have a tablet; 43 have a desktop or laptop computer.

I realized in analyzing these results that I never asked about access to the internet; because I am so plugged in, I just assumed everyone is. That was not a smart survey-maker move, but based on the fact that all respondents said they read news online at some point, I can assume that even if my respondents don’t have access to the internet in their own homes, they have access somewhere.

Moving on.

TV habitsTwenty-seven said they watch local TV news; 27 watch national TV news; 14 do not watch news on TV at all; and two don’t have cable or satellite TV.

I decided to look further into the two without cable, because based on the people I know who don’t have cable, this tends to be an indicator of someone who’s actually very plugged in (and gets their TV content online) rather than meaning that these people don’t like technology. My suspicions were confirmed. One person without cable had print subscriptions, as well as a computer, tablet and smartphone. While he consumed news both online and in print daily, he was more likely to access content in each category digitally. The other mainly consumed news on her computer, tablet or smartphone — and very occasionally on the radio. Both of these respondents were in the 18-34 range.

radio habitsTwenty-nine respondents said they listen to radio news in the car, with radio listening habits dropping off steeply after that commute time. Four listen at home, and three listen at work. Thirteen people said they don’t listen to news on the radio at all, and one (the “other” response) said he only listens to podcasts.

Next, I asked about how often respondents used each type of media. I don’t think that online received the most daily readers will surprise anyone, but the actual numbers might. Thirty-one people said they read news online every day. TV and radio were tied for the next highest daily number at nine each, and print was last with three.

Also notable is that zero people said they never read news online, which is the only medium in this survey that can claim that.

news habits typeLast, I asked a series of questions to determine whether people’s habits varied depending on the category of content.

news habits categoryIn looking at the individual responses, I noticed a number of users chose either mobile or computer across the board.

Based on these results, I would say that sports broadcasters could be awarded the most successful category in the TV world. My and my husband’s habits certainly follow this trend. When watching specifically news on TV, it’s 95 percent SportsCenter and 5 percent local or national news. Otherwise on TV, we’re watching our shows.

Lest you think the older respondents were responsible for the non-digital choices, let me assure you that the print, TV and radio news seekers were varied, and the older respondents in this survey seem comfortable with consuming news digitally. Without access to enterprise-level Survey Monkey or better math skills, I didn’t see any strong correlations between age and digital vs. more traditional media, although this would not be the case when looking at a more complete picture of the population. I must note that the people who took my survey likely got to it because they’re my friend on Facebook, follower on Twitter or follower of my WordPress blog, so all my respondents are likely at least somewhat digitally savvy.

Did anything about these results surprise you? Are there any details I didn’t go into that you’re wondering about? Tell me in the comments!


6 thoughts on “Survey results: How you get your news and what it means”

  1. Hi Julie,
    I think you did a great job with this survey! I am not surprised that people have either a tablet, smartphone or laptop/desktop. I know that there are a lot of people who don’t have those things or have access to those things, but it seems that if they can take an online survey, they do! As someone who studied journalism in college, I find it interesting that both print and radio are the two ways least used to consume news. It makes me wonder if those two are really dying out. Great post!

    1. There was no one who consumed news ONLY via print or ONLY via radio. Even for those who said they used print and/or radio, those things are supplemental means for news consumption. They may never completely die, but they’re definitely not the giants they once were.

  2. Hi Julie 🙂

    I am interested to know how many of your survey respondents access news from premium, subscription-based sources such as SiriusXM and Pandora.
    Do you think this would have an impact on news consumption, i.e. would fewer people access the news via radio if they had to pay for it?

    We can access the news via mobile apps, mobile web, and mobile TV for the cost of our wireless carrier, however, would we want to pay more to receive the news?

    Would a paid app be successful when every major news network has a free mobile app and website?

    These news network glaze the news over a smorgasbord of social media platforms to stimulate our visual and auditory senses. Mmmm. 😉

    1. I honestly wish I could have asked more questions that got into more specifics of news habits… but not quite enough to actually pay for a SurveyMonkey subscription right now. 🙂

      I think those who would be willing to pay for a subscription for Pandora or Sirius are a fraction of the population, but they’re probably going to be listening to news A LOT. It’s sort of like news websites with paywalls. They’re limiting their community’s size, but it’s a loyal community. However, I do not see myself paying for something that I can get for free online.

  3. I think looking for a correlation between print and more education would probably exist (although this takes math). We know as education and income go up, so too does informational media consumption.

    1. OK, so I did some math, but as I said in my post, because my respondents were so education heavy (in particular, bachelor’s degree heavy), it’s kind of hard to tell, but here are the education levels and how many print subscribers:

      Post grad (11 — the one that dropped out would have been the 12th post grad):
      Magazine 6 – 55%
      Newspaper 0
      Both 1 – 9%
      Neither 4 36%

      Bachelor’s (31):
      Magazine 9 – 29%
      Newspaper 2 – 6%
      Both 4 – 13%
      Neither 16 – 52%

      Some college (4):
      Magazine 1 – 25%
      Newspaper 1 – 25%
      Neither 2 – 50%

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