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TV Is Americans’ Main Source of News

Television is the main place Americans say they turn to for news about current events (55%), leading the Internet, at 21%. Nine percent say newspapers or other print publications are their main news source, followed by radio, at 6%.

These results are based on a Gallup poll of 2,048 national adults conducted June 20-24, in which Americans were asked to say, unaided, what they consider to be their main source of news about U.S. and global events.

More than half the references to television are general, with 26% simply saying they watch television or TV news, 4% saying they watch local TV news, and 2% saying they watch the « evening news. » The two leading 24-hour cable news channels — Fox News and CNN — are named by 8% and 7%, respectively. However, no other specific channel — including MSNBC, PBS, BBC, and all of the U.S. broadcast networks that once dominated the news landscape — is mentioned by more than 1% of Americans.

The vast majority of those citing the Internet — 18% of all Americans — either mention the Internet generally or say they get their news « online. » Two percent identify Facebook, Twitter, or social media as their source, while 1% mention a specific online news site.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are each named by 1% of Americans — the only specific print publications to earn as much as 1% in the poll.

As a measure of U.S. adults’ perception of their primary news source, the question provides insights into the importance of various types of media and news outlets as information sources to the public. It is not meant to indicate the total reach each news outlet has in the population, nor do the results necessarily correspond with television ratings data.

TV Is Primary News Source for All Age Groups

If the current media preferences of young adults are any indicator of the future, the data offer good news for TV, but bad news for print media. Half of adults aged 18 to 29 and half aged 30 to 49 identify television as their main source of news. This is nearly double the rate for the Internet even among these more tech-savvy populations. However, it does differ from older generations who put relatively more emphasis on TV and less on the Internet.

At the same time, heavy reliance on print is exclusive to seniors, among whom 18% cite newspapers or other print publications as their main source of news. By contrast, 6% to 8% of younger age groups rely on print.

Few adults of any age say their main source of news is radio. While many Americans certainly tune in to radio for entertainment as well as talk radio, it is clearly not the place most turn for hard news about current events.

In additional to older Americans, highly educated Americans — college postgraduates — put the most emphasis on newspapers or other print publications, with 19% naming it as their main source of news. However, this drops to 7% among college graduates, 8% among those with only some college education, and 7% among those with no college experience.

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