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Partisanship and paying for news

Democrats feel better about the news they pay for than Republicans

The more negative attitudes of Republicans and independents toward the media when compared with Democrats also relate to differences in their assessment about paying for news.

Republicans, for instance, are more likely than Democrats or independents to view their paid sources as overpriced.

Democrats Independents Republicans
Very good value 45% 41% 30%
Fair value 44% 40% 47%
Somewhat/very overpriced 10% 17% 20%

Data Source: Question: Think about your satisfaction with [SOURCE] given the price you pay for it. Which statement comes closest to your opinion? It is a very good value for the price, it is a fair value for what it gives me, it is somewhat overpriced and not a good value, or it is very overpriced compared to the value it gives me.
Source: Pay for News – Media Insight Project conducted February 16-March 20, 2017, with 2,199 adults nationwide.

Media Insight Project

This is especially true when looking only at newspaper subscribers. Thirty-five percent of Democrats say their newspaper subscription is a very good value compared with 27 percent of independents and 17 percent of Republicans. Likewise, 27 percent of Republican subscribers say their newspaper is overpriced compared with 21 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats.

Democrats who pay for news also are more likely to feel good about contributing to a news organization. Thirty-seven percent of Democratic subscribers say they feel good about contributing to a news organization compared with 27 percent of independents and 24 percent of Republicans.

Democrats may be more likely to pay for a source they currently use for free

As publishers drive toward reader revenue strategies, are there clues in party identification about who does not currently pay for news and is unlikely to?

Some. To begin with, Republicans and independents are more likely to say they don’t pay for news because they don’t trust news and information from the media (23 percent and 17 percent, respectively, vs. 5 percent for Democrats). This echoes other data points, including about reliability of media they use and whether media often cover up mistakes.

Independents are also more likely than Democrats to say they don’t pay for any news because they are not interested enough (45 percent of independents vs. 33 percent for Democrats and 42 percent of Republicans). This sits alongside other data points that show independents cite fewer reasons for following the news.

A couple final questions posed hypothetical questions about willingness to pay for free sources in the future, with Democrats again responding the most positively. Democrats currently are more likely than Republicans or independents to indicate a stronger hint of being willing to pay for their free source. Fourteen percent of Democrats say they would be very or extremely likely to pay for a source they currently use for free. Just 6 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of independents say the same. There is a little less of a divide when it comes to being moderately willing to pay—20 percent of Democrats are in that camp, 12 percent of Republicans, and 15 percent of independents.

These differences between partisans remain when proposing that their subscription would also include access to paid content from additional sources. More Republicans say they would be likely to pay if more content is included, but still fewer Republicans and independents than Democrats say they would pay for such expanded content.

Democrats Independents Republicans
At least moderately likely to pay for free source 34% 24% 19%
At least moderately likely to pay for free source if also included additional content 37% 26% 26%

Data Source: Questions: How likely is it that you would be willing to pay for news and information from [FREE SOURCE] at some point? What if a subscription to [FREE SOURCE] also included access to paid content from various other news and information sources, how likely is it that you would be willing to pay for news and information from [FREE SOURCE] at some point?
Source: Pay for News – Media Insight Project conducted February 16-March 20, 2017, with 2,199 adults nationwide.

Media Insight Project

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