The Media Insight Project

The Media Insight Project is a collaboration of the American Press Institute (API) and The AP‑NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with the objective of conducting high‑quality, innovative research meant to inform the news industry and the public about various important issues facing journalism and the news business.

The Media Insight Project brings together the expertise of both organizations and their respective partners, and involves collaborations among key staff at API, NORC at the University of Chicago, and The Associated Press.

Its studies are directed and funded primarily by API and are designed and conducted in partnership between the organizations.

The individual authors, researchers and contributors for each study are cited in the studies’ methodology sections.

About The American Press Institute
The American Press Institute (API) advances an innovative and sustainable local news industry by helping publishers understand and engage audiences, grow revenue, improve public‑service journalism, and succeed at organizational change. API is a national 501©3 nonprofit educational organization affiliated with the News Media Alliance. It works with and draws on the best ideas from technology, business, and publishing. Read more here.

About The Associated Press‑NORC Center For Public Affairs Research
The AP‑NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest‑quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world.

The Associated Press (AP) is the world’s essential news organization, bringing fast, unbiased news to all media platforms and formats.

NORC at the University of Chicago is one of the oldest and most respected, independent research institutions in the world.

The two organizations have established The AP‑NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

The founding principles of The AP‑NORC Center include a mandate to preserve carefully and protect the scientific integrity and objectivity of NORC and the journalistic independence of AP. All work conducted by the Center conforms to the highest levels of scientific integrity to prevent any real or perceived bias in the research. All of the work of the Center is subject to review by its advisory committee to help ensure it meets these standards. The Center will publicize the results of all studies and make all datasets and study documentation available to scholars and the public.

Broadening the moral values addressed in a news story can increase trust

Americans who value loyalty and authority most highly tend to be the most skeptical of the news media. In experiments with readers, however, we see promising signs that emphasizing these values in stories when they are relevant could broaden the appeal of those stories and of the media generally, without alienating people who revere other […]

A new way of looking at trust in media: Do Americans share journalism’s core values?

The deep divides over trust in the news media are usually portrayed as largely ideological. Democrats are seven times more likely than Republicans to say they trust the mainstream media, and independents are four times as likely.1 But the argument over media trust often has the feel of people talking past each other—many journalists denying […]

Study methodology for ‘Do Americans share journalism’s core values?’

This study was conducted by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the American Press Institute (API) and The Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The study was funded by API. Staff from API and The AP-NORC Center collaborated on all aspects of the study. The study featured two surveys. Interviews for the […]

Appendix III: Experimental stories we used to test broadened appeals to moral values

Story 1. Pollution story Standard Version At-risk neighborhood now facing new health threat from toxic drinking water A toxic chemical has polluted drinking water at a local mobile home park, making it the latest low-income community to face a public health crisis due to the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure. Lab testing shows tap water at the […]

Appendix I: Moral and journalism values questionnaires

Moral Foundations Theory Questionnaire This survey used a battery of questions often used in academic studies to assess respondents’ inclinations toward values in Moral Foundations Theory. Below is the specific set of questions we used to create variables for the moral foundation values in this study: care, fairness, loyalty, authority, and purity. MFT1. WHEN YOU […]

Cluster analysis: Four groups of Americans based on their responses to moral and journalistic values

Despite partisan differences, Americans’ attitudes about journalism are more complicated than a simple Democrat versus Republican divide. To better understand how values relate to views of the news media, this study used a “k-means cluster analysis,” a statistical technique that groups people together based on their answers—in this case, their moral values and views toward […]

How we studied moral values to understand trust in the news media

Half of the current decline in trust occurred before the widespread adoption of the public internet and so much news coverage moved online and or to social media. It took place roughly between 1980 and 2000. That timing correlated to the advent of cable and the deregulation of electronic media, which ended rules like the Fairness […]

How to sell more news subscriptions by appealing to broader moral values

While the majority of our research looked at how moral foundations intersect with perceptions of core journalistic concepts and content, we also wanted to test how people’s values influence how they perceive the marketing messages that encourage them to pay or donate for news. The study found a strong correlation between people’s moral instincts and […]

Appendix II: Panel of experts who advised on defining journalism values

The panel of experts in the working session included: Susan Benkelman – American Press Institute, Director of Accountability Journalism; Jenny Benz, PhD, – AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Deputy Director; Maria Carrillo – Tampa Bay Times, Deputy Editor/Enterprise; Joel Christopher – Knoxville News Sentinel and knoxnews.com, Executive Editor; Noreen Gillespie – Associated Press, Deputy […]

What are Americans’ moral values and journalism values?

To provide our own baseline for trust with respondents, we began by asking about their level of trust in the news media. We asked the question differently than Gallup does annually—giving people three levels of trust to choose from rather than five—but the results are basically similar. Overall, about 40% of people say the media […]