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How Millennials Use Technology to Get News: Differences by race and ethnicity

This research was conducted by the Media Insight Project — an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

A new study of Millennials and news finds that Hispanic and African American adults under age 35 are just as connected to the web as the rest of their generation, but they find news in somewhat different ways, and they tend to follow a different mix of subjects.

The new study is a deeper examination of a larger report on the Millennial generation produced by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago.

One of the distinctions of the digital age is that it gives consumers more control over the information they consume, the sources they seek out, and the pathways they use to get it. An important question in trying to understand the first generation that grew up with that technology—the first digital generation—is whether those choices are extending or blurring differences between races and ethnic groups.

Hispanic and African American Millennials are more likely to use YouTube and Instagram for news than Millennials in general.

This new study finds that, among the various groups, the similarities are probably more numerous than the differences in the way Millennials learn about the world, but there are some distinctions.

One of those involves the social networks different groups rely on for news and information. In particular, Hispanic and African American Millennials are more likely to use YouTube and Instagram for news than Millennials in general, though all groups rely heavily on Facebook.

African Americans, Hispanics, and Millennials in general all tend to get news about a somewhat different list of topics. For example, African Americans tend to follow lifestyle topics at higher rates than other Millennials; Hispanics tend to follow a somewhat different list of current events topics—as well as science and technology, the environment, and foreign affairs—at higher rates than African Americans.

In many other ways, however, African American and Hispanic Millennials are similar to the rest of their generation. And contrary to some earlier depictions about a “newsless” and infotainment-focused generation, Millennials are heavy news consumers and are highly focused on the world around them. And, Millennials across racial and ethnic groups use news in a variety of ways in their lives.

This new research, focused on the Millennial generation, reinforces 2014 Media Insight Project findings about adults overall, which found that the much-predicted “digital divide”—in which people of color would be left behind by not having digital connectivity—had not materialized in the way many had feared, at least when it comes to the news.

That study revealed that people across ethnic groups were connecting online in similar numbers, thanks in part to the advent of wireless and mobile technology. But the evidence also suggested that the promise that the web would offer underserved communities more diverse content had not been realized.

This new study looks more closely at the first natively digital generation of Americans, adults age 18-34. The additional analysis probes whether there are major differences between racial and ethnic groups within the Millennial generation, or if widespread access to digital technology has made these differences disappear. The findings suggest that overall access to news is similar across racial and ethnic groups, but that there are nuances in terms of how African American, Hispanic, and white Millennials get and use news.

Among the findings:

  • Facebook and search engines dominate the way Hispanics, African Americans, and whites alike get their news for a majority of topics, as opposed to going directly to news destinations as is more typical of older Americans.
  • Hispanics and African Americans are just as likely as Millennials in general to have paid news subscriptions.
  • In what may be a challenge to the stereotype of the Millennial generation that some harbor, only about half (51 percent) say they are almost always or mostly online and connected, and this is consistent across racial and ethnic groups.
  • Different ethnic groups do tend to spend their time differently online, however. Hispanic Millennials, in particular, are less likely to report playing games online than white Millennials (37 percent vs. 50 percent) or to pursue hobbies online (50 percent vs. 71 percent).
  • While YouTube and Instagram are more popular sources for getting news among Hispanic and African American Millennials, use of other platforms—such as Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, and Tumblr—for news is similar across racial and ethnic groups.
  • Although Facebook is engrained in the news habits of Millennials (fully 81 percent across racial and ethnic groups say they get news and information from Facebook at least once a week), there is some variation in the motivations for using it between racial and ethnic groups. The most popular motivation for white Millennials is keeping up with friends’ lives, and they are more likely to say this is a main reason to use Facebook than are African American and Hispanic Millennials (74 percent vs. 62 percent and 55 percent). For African American and Hispanic Millennials, the top motivation is to get more information on something in the news.
  • Once they are logged in, Millennials across racial and ethnic groups tend to behave in similar ways on Facebook, at least in terms of engagement with the news, including reading, posting, and “liking” news stories.
  • Millennials across racial and ethnic groups follow different news topics. Of the 24 news and information topics the survey asked about, significant racial and ethnic differences emerged for nine.

Study methods

This study was conducted by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. A nationwide survey of 1,045 adults age 18-34 was conducted from January 5 through February 2, 2015. This includes 163 non-Hispanic African Americans and 162 Hispanics. Participants were recruited through a national probability telephone sample, and the main questionnaire was administered online.

Device usage and connectivity

The digital divide has not materialized when it comes to technology access among Millennials.

The Media Insight Project’s 2014 report The Personal News Cycle found that, contrary to long-held assumptions about digital media access by people of color, the digital divide has not played out in the United States as many had anticipated. 1That study found no evidence to suggest that African Americans and Hispanics lag behind the rest of the population in terms of technology use. The current research finds the same result among Millennials. Nearly all Millennials across racial and ethnic groups use a smartphone, and half use a tablet. Just 1 percent of Millennials say they do not have mobile access to the internet through either a smartphone or a tablet.

As we saw among the general population in The Personal News Cycle, similar proportions of Hispanic (91 percent), African American (95 percent), and white (93 percent) Millennials age 18-34 say they use a smartphone.

Nor does tablet usage among Millennials vary by race or ethnicity.

Overall Whites African Americans Hispanics
Smartphone 94% 93% 95% 91%
Tablet 50% 51% 54% 46%
Cell phone without an Internet connection 10% 10% 11% 11%
None of these (mutually exclusive) 1% 0% 4% 1%

Data Source: Question: Do you use any of the following devices, or not? Please select all that apply: A smartphone, a cell phone that is only used for calls and/or text messaging but does not connect to the internet, a tablet, none of these.

Media Insight Project

Millennials across racial and ethnic groups spend similar amounts of time online and connected, but differ in terms of their online activities.

Fifty-one percent of Millennials say they are almost always or mostly online and connected, 10 percent say they are mostly or always offline, and 39 percent say their time is a mix of being online and being offline. This level of connectivity does not vary across racial and ethnic groups.

Percentage
Almost always
or mostly online
51%
Mostly or always offline 10%
A mix of being online
and being offline
39%

Data Source: Question: How much of your time do you spend online and connected, and how much do you spend offline?

Media Insight Project

Again, when it comes to the news, the data do not reveal evidence of a digital divide. Yet significant differences emerge when it comes to the types of activities Millennials spend their time doing online.

When it comes to keeping up with what’s going on in the world or reading and watching news online, 64 percent of Millennials say they do this regularly, making it the fifth most commonly cited online activity. While more white Millennials than Hispanic Millennials say they keep up with what’s going on in the world (65 percent vs. 53 percent), keeping up with what’s going on in the world actually ranks higher among all activities in the survey for Hispanics than for whites (tied for third for Hispanics; fifth for whites). Sixty-six percent of African American Millennials say they regularly keep up with the news, ranking third of the nine activities probed.

In general, African American and Hispanic Millennials tend to regularly engage in fewer activities online than do white Millennials. Across all groups, for instance, more than 50 percent say they “regularly” engage in eight of the nine online activities the survey probed. Among white Millennials, that number includes all nine activities—from checking email and streaming music to playing games. The number of activities that at least half say they regularly do online drops to six of nine for African American Millennials and five of nine for Hispanic Millennials.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
Checking and sending email 72% 78% 67% 61%
Keeping up with what friends are doing 71% 76% 59% 63%
Streaming music, TV, or movies 68% 71% 69% 53%
Researching topics of interest 65% 71% 59% 50%
Keeping up with news 64% 65% 66% 53%
Checking the weather, traffic, or public transportation 57% 62% 48% 48%
Finding information about events, movies, or restaurants 56% 62% 49% 49%
Shopping or researching projects 56% 58% 56% 48%
Playing games 45% 50% 41% 37%

Data Source: Question: Which of the following activities, if any, would you say you do regularly online? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

Checking and sending email is the most commonly cited online activity for Millennials overall, as 72 percent say they regularly do this. This differs for African American and Hispanic Millennials. Streaming music, TV, or movies is the most commonly cited online activity among African Americans, and keeping up with what their friends are doing is the most commonly cited online activity among Hispanics.

Other distinct differences in online activities emerge across racial and ethnic groups, particularly between whites and Hispanics. White Millennials are more likely than Hispanics to say they regularly research topics they’re interested in online or pursue hobbies (71 percent vs. 50 percent) and play games (50 percent vs. 37 percent). African Americans fall in the middle for each of these online activities (59 percent say they regularly research topics of interest and 41 percent say they regularly play games).

Overall, 71 percent of Millennials say they regularly keep up with what their friends are doing. White Millennials, however, are more likely than Hispanic and African American Millennials to say they regularly spend time online keeping up with their friends (76 percent vs. 63 percent vs. 59 percent, respectively). In addition, whites and African Americans are more likely than Hispanics to say they regularly stream music, TV, or movies (71 percent vs. 69 percent vs. 53 percent).

Similar proportions of whites, African Americans, and Hispanics regularly check and send email; shop or research products; check the weather, traffic, or public transportation; and find information about events, movies, and restaurants.

  1. The Media Insight Project. 2014. The Personal News Cycle.

Motivations for keeping up with news

One dimension of understanding news and information that is becoming more important today is how people use the news and information they encounter. In an age when consumers can decide what they want to follow and how, and when their reactions and use of the information they consume is more public, it becomes more critical that news providers understand not just what consumers look at but what they do with it next. News, rather than product that is fed by media gatekeepers to citizens with limited choices, is now better understood by publishers as a service that consumers use for different purposes.

The survey tried to probe this by asking Millennials the reasons that they consume news and information and what they do with it.

While there were clear differences in what the various ethnic groups do online, there were fewer in the way they use news.

Millennials across racial and ethnic groups tend to use news and information in similar ways.

African American and Hispanic Millennials do not differ significantly from Millennials overall in terms of how they use news and information. The survey asked respondents to select the main reasons they personally use news and information out of a list of 12 items. These items fit into three general categories: civic engagement, social networking, and practical information. The results reveal that whites, African Americans, and Hispanics share similar motivations for getting news and information, with one exception: white Millennials are more likely than African American and Hispanic Millennials to say they use news and information to help them decide where they stand on different issues (54 percent vs. 38 percent vs. 36 percent).

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
It helps me stay informed to be a better citizen 57% 59% 57% 53%
I like to talk to friends, family, and colleagues about the news 53% 56% 49% 44%
It’s enjoyable or entertaining 53% 54% 53% 50%
It helps me decide where I stand on things 47% 54% 38% 36%
It helps me feel connected to my community 45% 44% 53% 39%
It helps me find places to go and things to do 39% 40% 42% 34%
It helps me take action to address issues I care about 35% 35% 36% 30%
It helps me stay healthy 26% 24% 32% 25%
It helps me solve problems 24% 24% 25% 23%
It helps me manage my money 24% 23% 23% 26%
It helps me in my job 24% 24% 22% 26%
It helps me raise my family 14% 12% 16% 15%
Other 5% 5% 2% 4%

Data Source: Question: People use news and information in different ways. What are the main reasons you, personally, tend to use news and information? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

The survey also asked the different groups a more general question about news—how important they felt it was to keep up with the news. A majority of Millennials say it is at least somewhat important to them personally to keep up with the news: 38 percent say it is very or extremely important, 47 percent say it is somewhat important, and 15 percent say it is not very or not at all important. Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics place similar levels of importance on keeping up with the news.

Use of social media for news

One of the major findings of this research, across all groups, is the finding that Millennials are far more interested in news and information than other research might have indicated. The project identified this, or broke with past research, not by simply tracking where Millennials went online but by looking in more detail than past studies at what topics and information they looked at when they got there.

Some previous researchers had begun to worry that Millennials might be less curious or engaged in the world around them because they were less inclined to visit traditional news destinations online, such as newspapers and television websites, and to consume legacy media in other platforms, such as watching TV newscasts or reading print newspapers. Instead, they spent more time in social networks, such as Facebook.

This Media Insight Project, however, found that while social networks played a preeminent role in the digital lives of Millennials, across all ethnicities, these networks were now far more than social. Millennials are not only consuming news on these social networks; they are consuming more than they intended to when they go on the networks, they are engaging with the news, and they are being exposed to a wider range of topics and opinions than many suspect.

And this news orientation and level of conscious navigation held true across different ethnic groups. There are, however, some differences in the social networks that the various racial and ethnic groups use.

Facebook plays a preeminent role in the news and information lives of all Millennials across ethnic groups.

Of the seven social networking sites the survey asked about, Millennials most often name Facebook as the site they visit at least once a day to get news and information. Overall, 57 percent of Millennials say they get news and information from Facebook at least once a day, another 24 percent say they get news and information from Facebook at least once a week, and another 8 percent say they get news and information from Facebook less than once a week. Just 12 percent say they never get news and information from Facebook. The proportions of Millennials who say they get news from Facebook does not vary by race and ethnicity.

Whites African Americans Hispanics
At least daily 56% 53% 53%
Several times a week or less 31% 38% 33%
Never 13% 9% 14%

Data Source: Question: How often, if at all, do you get news and information from each of the following?

Media Insight Project

The reasons Millennials turn to Facebook for news and information are varied. A majority of Millennials say they use Facebook to get more information on something they heard on social media or in the news (70 percent), to see what’s happening in friends’ lives and what they are talking about (69 percent), and to find things that are entertaining (53 percent). Fewer say they use Facebook to look for interesting articles their friends have posted (42 percent), to tell people what’s going on or to share content (38 percent), and to see what’s “trending” and what people are talking about on social media (31 percent).

White, African American, and Hispanic Millennials have significantly different motivations when it comes to why they use Facebook. Whites are more likely than African Americans and Hispanics to use Facebook to see what’s happening in their friends’ lives (74 percent vs. 62 percent vs. 55 percent). African Americans are more likely than whites and Hispanics to use Facebook to see what’s “trending” (41 percent vs. 29 percent vs. 24 percent). And African Americans are more likely than Hispanics to say they use Facebook to tell people what’s going on in their lives.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
To get more information on something in the news 70% 72% 68% 72%
To see what’s happening in friends’ lives and what they are talking about 69% 74% 62% 55%
To find things that are entertaining 53% 50% 53% 49%
To look for interesting articles friends have posted 42% 42% 41% 39%
To tell people what’s going on or to share content 38% 39% 45% 29%
To see what’s “trending” and what people are talking about on social media 31% 29% 41% 24%

Data Source: Question: Which of these, if any, are the main reasons that you use Facebook? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

Yet, once they are logged in, Millennials across racial and ethnic groups tend to behave in similar ways on Facebook, at least in terms of engagement with the news. A majority of Millennials say they read or watch news stories posted by others on Facebook (70 percent) and “like” a news story they see posted to Facebook (60 percent). Fewer say they personally post or share news stories to Facebook (42 percent) or comment on a news story posted to Facebook (34 percent).

The data reveal just one significant difference between racial and ethnic groups in news engagement activities on Facebook: African Americans (48 percent) are more likely than whites (30 percent) and Hispanics (29 percent) to say they comment on news stories posted to Facebook.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
Read or watch news stories posted by others on Facebook 70% 74% 63% 63%
“Like” a news story posted to Facebook 60% 59% 69% 58%
Post or share a news story to Facebook 42% 37% 48% 48%
Comment on a news story posted to Facebook 34% 30% 48% 29%
None of these 11% 12% 4% 12%

Data Source: Question: When you’re on Facebook, do you regularly do any of the following? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

The use of other social media platforms for news varies by race and ethnicity.

Other social media platforms are more popular for getting news and information amongst racial and ethnic minorities. Both African Americans and Hispanics, for instance, are more likely than whites to get news and information at least once a day from YouTube (33 percent vs. 38 percent vs. 20 percent). African American and Hispanic Millennials are also significantly more likely to get news from Instagram (45 percent vs. 30 percent vs. 19 percent for whites).

There are no significant differences in news use by race and ethnicity for Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, or Tumblr.

White African American Hispanic
YouTube 20% 33% 38%
Instagram 19% 45% 30%
Twitter 14% 16% 11%
Pinterest 9% 14% 15%
Reddit 7% 10% 6%
Tumblr 5% 9% 11%

Media Insight Project

Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics have adapted their use of social networks in different ways over time.

Fully 86 percent of Millennials have changed their use of social networks over time in at least one of the six ways covered in the survey, including changing the networks they use for different purposes or removing certain types of information, and this doesn’t vary significantly across racial and ethnic groups.

Yet, when looking at specific examples of how Millennials have changed the way they use social networks over time, several demographic differences emerge.

Whites are more likely than Hispanics to say they have removed information or photos of themselves that are embarrassing or immature (41 percent vs. 29 percent) and to say they have tailored the way they use social networks, with different networks serving different purposes (41 percent vs. 24 percent). African Americans fall in the middle, as 34 percent say they have removed embarrassing information or photos of themselves from social networks, and 31 percent say they have tailored their use of social networks.

When it comes to paying more attention to and controlling privacy settings on social networks, whites are more likely than African Americans to say they have done so (55 percent vs. 44 percent). Here, Hispanics fall in the middle, with 50 percent saying they now pay more attention to and control their privacy settings.

Impact of race and ethnicity on topics followed by Millennials

The Personal News Cycle revealed that the type of news people choose to follow varies significantly by race and ethnicity in the general population, 1 and these new data reveal a similar trend among adults age 18-34.

In the current study, Millennials were asked if they regularly follow 24 different news and information topics. Significant racial and ethnic differences emerged for nine of the topics.

African American Millennials report following some lifestyle topics at higher rates than their peers. Overall, 35 percent of Millennials follow news about celebrities or pop culture. However, 56 percent of African Americans say they follow this type of news, about double the proportions of whites (29 percent) and Hispanics (28 percent) who say they follow this type of news. Similarly, just 26 percent of Millennials follow news about style, beauty, and fashion. Yet half of African Americans do so, making them about twice as likely as Hispanics (26 percent) and nearly three times as likely as whites (18 percent) to follow these topics.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
Music, TV, and movies 66% 63% 72% 67%
Sports 49% 53% 51% 44%
Food and cooking 44% 44% 48% 43%
Health and fitness 40% 39% 47% 38%
Celebrities or pop culture 35% 29% 56% 28%
Local restaurants or entertainment 35% 38% 35% 31%
The arts and culture 29% 27% 34% 26%
Style, beauty, and fashion 26% 18% 50% 26%

Data Source: Question: Here are some lifestyle news and information topics. Which of these topics, if any, do you regularly follow? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

When it comes to regularly following news on general information topics, the proportion of white and African American Millennials differs for three of the four topics: information related to their interest or hobbies (67 percent of whites vs. 46 percent of African Americans); information related to their job, industry, or profession (48 percent of whites vs. 34 percent of African Americans); and advice or how-to information (47 percent of whites vs. 32 percent of African Americans). There are no racial or ethnic differences when it comes to price comparisons or product research.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
Information related to my interests or hobbies 61% 67% 46% 51%
Information related to my job, industry, or profession 44% 48% 34% 34%
Advice or how-to information 43% 47% 32% 39%
Price comparisons or product research 37% 37% 33% 35%

Data Source: Question: Now, we’d like to ask about different information topics you may keep up with. Which of these topics, if any, do you regularly follow? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

Among current events topics, whites and Hispanics are more likely than African Americans to say they follow news about science and technology (46 percent vs. 44 percent vs. 27 percent), the environment and natural disasters (39 percent vs. 36 percent vs. 16 percent), and foreign affairs (30 percent vs. 35 percent vs. 17 percent).

For whites and Hispanics, traffic and weather is the most commonly followed current events topic. For African Americans, however, the topic of crime and public safety is most commonly cited. These data were collected in January-February 2015, after months of press coverage of police-involved deaths of African American men in the United States. Crime and public safety is the third most commonly followed news topic for Hispanics, behind traffic and weather, and science and technology. It’s the fourth most commonly followed news topic for whites, behind traffic and weather, national politics and government, and science and technology.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
Traffic or weather 51% 54% 41% 49%
Crime and public safety 44% 42% 44% 43%
National politics and government 43% 49% 35% 31%
Science and technology 43% 46% 27% 44%
Information about my city, town, or neighborhood 41% 41% 42% 41%
Social issues like abortion, race, and gay rights 37% 40% 31% 29%
Health care and medical information 35% 32% 39% 38%
The environment and natural disasters 35% 39% 16% 36%
Schools and education 33% 31% 42% 31%
Foreign or international news 30% 30% 17% 35%
Business and the economy 29% 30% 25% 26%
Religion and faith 22% 22% 18% 24%

Data Source: Question: Here are some current events news and information topics. Which of these topics, if any, do you regularly follow? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

Like Millennials overall, African American and Hispanic Millennials cite Facebook and search engines as the main ways they get their news on lifestyle and news-you-can-use topics. But, there is more variation by race and ethnicity when it comes to getting news on current events topics. For seven of the 12 current events topics, the most commonly cited source of information differed by race and ethnicity. For example, of those who say they follow news and information about crime and public safety, African Americans are nearly twice as likely as Hispanics to turn to local television news to get information on this topic (60 percent vs. 34 percent).

Millennials differ by race and ethnicity when it comes to the most commonly cited way of getting news on current events topics

Top way of getting current events topics

Topic Overall Whites African Americans Hispanics
Traffic and weather Local TV station Local TV station Local TV station Local TV station
Crime and public safety Facebook Local TV station Facebook/ Local TV station Facebook
National politics and government Facebook Facebook / National TV network Facebook Local TV station / National TV network
Science and technology Search engine Search engine Search engine Search engine
Information about my city, town, or neighborhood Facebook Local TV station Facebook Local TV station
Social issues like abortion, race, and gay rights Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook
Health care and medical information Search engine Search engine Facebook Local TV station
The environment and natural disasters Facebook Facebook Local TV station Facebook
Schools and education Word-of-mouth Word-of-mouth Facebook Search engine
Foreign or international news National TV network National TV network National newspaper Search engine
Business and the economy Search engine National TV network Local TV station Search engine
Religion and faith Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

Data Source: Question: Where do you most often get your information on this topic? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

  1. Among the 15 news and information topics respondents were asked about in The Personal News Cycle, significant differences in the proportions of whites, Hispanics, and African Americans emerged for seven of the topics.

About the study

This survey 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 survey was conducted from January 5 through February 2, 2015. The survey was funded by API. The API, NORC at the University of Chicago, and The Associated Press staff collaborated on all aspects of the study.

The study included multiple modes of data collection, including a qualitative component whose results are not included in this report. However, a detailed description of the qualitative methodology can be found in the main report.1

The portion of the survey involving screening for age eligibility and recruitment was completed by telephone, while the main portion of the questionnaire was administered online. The telephone component included only cell phone numbers (no landlines), and used both random-digit-dial (RDD) and age-targeted list sample from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. During recruitment efforts, a total of 6,635 adults provided age information, and 2,297 (35 percent) were deemed eligible because they fell between the ages of 18 and 34. Of those 2,297, a total of 1,759 respondents (77 percent) went on to complete the recruitment phase of the survey, which involved agreeing to receive an invitation for the web survey either by email or text message, and providing one’s email address or cell phone number. Of the recruited participants, 1,045 (59 percent) completed the web survey, including 163 non-Hispanic African Americans and 162 Hispanics. The final response rate was 14 percent, based on the American Association for Public Opinion Research Response Rate 3 method.

Respondents were offered one small monetary incentive for participating in the telephone portion of the survey, as compensation for telephone usage charges, and another small monetary incentive for participating in the web portion of the survey. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish, depending on respondent preference. All telephone recruitments were completed by professional interviewers who were carefully trained on the specific survey for this study.

The RDD sample was provided by a third-party vendor, Marketing Systems Group. The age-targeted list sample was provided by a second vendor, Scientific Telephone Samples. The sample design aimed to ensure the sample representativeness of the population in a time- and cost-efficient manner. The sampling frame utilizes the standard cell phone RDD frame, with a supplemental sample of cell phone numbers targeting adults between the ages of 18 and 34. The targeted sample was pulled from a number of different commercial consumer databases and demographic data.

Sampling weights were appropriately adjusted to account for potential bias introduced by using the targeted sample. Sampling weights were calculated to adjust for sample design aspects (such as unequal probabilities of selection), for nonresponse bias arising from differential response rates across various demographic groups, and for non-coverage of the population without access to cell phones. Poststratification variables included age, sex, race/ethnicity, region, and education. The weighted data, which thus reflect the U.S. population of 18- to 34-year-old adults, were used for all analyses. The overall margin of error was +/- 3.8 percentage points, including the design effect resulting from the complex sample design.

All analyses were conducted using STATA (version 13), which allows for adjustment of standard errors for complex sample designs. All differences reported between subgroups of the U.S. population are at the 95 percent level of statistical significance, meaning that there is only a 5 percent (or less) probability that the observed differences could be attributed to chance variation in sampling. Additionally, bivariate differences between subgroups are only reported when they also remain robust in a multivariate model controlling for other demographic, political, and socioeconomic covariates. A comprehensive listing of all study questions, complete with tabulations of top-level results for each question, is available on the Media Insight Project’s website: www.mediainsight.org.

Contributing researchers

From the American Press Institute

Tom Rosenstiel

Jeff Sonderman

Kevin Loker

From The Associated Press

Emily Swanson

From NORC at the University of Chicago

Jennifer Benz

Emily Alvarez

David Sterrett

Ivana Cvarkovic

Becky Reimer

Trevor Tompson

Marjorie Connelly

About 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.

About the American Press Institute

The American Press Institute (API) conducts research and training, convenes thought leaders, and creates tools to help chart a path ahead for journalism in the 21st century. API is an educational non-advocacy 501(c)3 nonprofit organization affiliated with the Newspaper Association of America. It aims to help the news media, especially local publishers and newspaper media, advance in the digital age.

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 carefully preserve 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.

Download a PDF or topline results

For printing and offline viewing, a PDF version of this report and the topline survey results are available for download.

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API offers a suite of original tools and services for solving the biggest challenges in news:

  • Decide what beats to cover and how
  • Identify and develop the skills you need
  • Assess and improve your culture
  • Drive more reader revenue
  • Drive loyalty through accountability journalism
  • Make analytics work for you
  • Contact us to find out how »