Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

About the study

Study methodology

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 9 through February 16, 2014. The survey was funded by API and the McCormick Foundation. The API, NORC at the University of Chicago, and AP staff, along with the McCormick Foundation, the Maynard Institute and New America Media, collaborated on all aspects of the study.

This random-digit-dial (RDD) survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia was conducted via telephone with 1,492 adults age 18 and older. In households with more than one adult, we used a process that randomly selected which adult would be interviewed. The sample included 1,006 respondents on landlines and 486 respondents on cell phones. The sample also included oversamples of African American and Hispanic adults. The sample includes 358 Hispanic adults and 318 non-Hispanic African American adults. The discussion of results often refers to point estimates from the overall national findings as a benchmark to compare the racial and ethnic subgroup estimates. These national findings among 1,492 respondents represent the general population of Americans age 18 and older, including whites, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and any other racial or ethnic combinations in which respondents identified. Cell phone respondents were offered a small monetary incentive for participating, as compensation for telephone usage charges. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish, depending on respondent preference. All interviews 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 final response rate was 23 percent, based on the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) method. Under this method, our response rate is calculated as the product of the resolution rate (57 percent), the screener rate (92 percent), and the interview completion rate (43 percent).

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 dual telephone frames (landline and cell), with a supplemental sample of landline numbers targeting households with African American and Hispanic adults. The targeted sample was provided by Marketing Systems Group and was pulled from a number of different commercial consumer databases and demographic data at the telephone exchange level. 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) and for nonresponse bias arising from differential response rates across various demographic groups. Poststratification variables included age, sex, race, region, education, and landline/cell phone use. The weighted data, which thus reflect the U.S. population, were used for all analyses. The overall margin of error was +/- 3.6 percentage points, including the design effect resulting from the complex sample design. The margin of error for the African American sample is +/- 7.9 percentage points, and for the Hispanic sample it is +/- 8.5 percentage points.

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
  • Millie Tran

From NORC at the University of Chicago

  • Trevor Tompson
  • Jennifer Benz
  • Nicole Willcoxon
  • Emily Alvarez

From The Associated Press
Jennifer Agiesta

From New America Media
Sandy Close

From the Maynard Institute
Dori Maynard

From the McCormick Foundation
Mark Hallett

About the Media Insight Project

The Media Insight Project is a new collaboration between the American Press Institute (API) and the Associated Press- 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 the API, NORC at the University of Chicago, and the AP.

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. The 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.

Need to Know newsletter

The smart way to start your day

Each morning we scour the web for fresh useful insights in our Need to Know newsletter. Sign up below.

Featured topics

Go deeper on…

Dive deep on everything we produce about these key topics.

Strategy Studies

The best practices for innovation within news organizations

This Strategy Study presents examples and insights about journalism innovation, offering actionable advice and methods to move your journalism and business forward.