Credibility of mainstream news media fares better among mobile media users

2014 RJI Mobile Media Research Report 9

Mobile media users are more likely than nonusers to give higher credibility rankings to national newspapers and most other mainstream news media (see charts 9.8 and 9.9), according to the latest mobile media news consumption survey from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI). They also tend to place greater importance on getting news every day and on the source of news (see charts 9.19 and 9.20).

Women also were found to be more likely than men to give most mainstream news media higher credibility rankings (see charts 9.7 and 9.6), and to want news every day and value the source of news (see charts 9.18 and 9.17).

Participants in the 18-34 age group gave national newspapers the highest credibility ranking (see chart 9.3), but placed a lower importance on getting the news every day and on the source of news than participants in the older age groups. They also indicated that they were somewhat less inclined to prefer news stories produced and selected by professional journalists (see chart 9.14).

Survey participants who did not use mobile media or subscribe to newspapers were the least likely to disagree with the statement: “News is news; it doesn’t matter to me who produced it” (see charts 9.20 and 9.23).

Social media networks — Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. — were considered less credible than mainstream news sources by a majority of participants (see chart 9.2), even among those who said they read news found on social media (see chart 9.10).

Given the much higher average credibility rankings for mainstream news sources — often referenced by users of social media — the less credible ranking probably relates more to the individual comments made by social media users and the embedded links to alternative news sources, such as the Drudge Report, Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. Among RJI’s other findings:

  • Among the mainstream television news sources, public and local broadcast television news programs had the highest credibility rankings within all groupings of participants.
  • Fox News Channel and MSNBC had the lowest credibility rankings within all groupings of participants.
  • CNN and national network television news programs had identical credibility rankings overall and within most groupings of participants.
  • Participants in the 55 or older age group gave national newspapers the lowest credibility ranking (see chart 9.5), but placed a higher importance on getting the news every day and on the source of news than the younger age groups (see chart 9.15).
  • Newspaper subscribers were more likely than nonsubscribers to give higher credibility rankings to newspapers and broadcast television and radio news programs, and lower rankings to cable news networks (see charts 9.9 and 9.10).

Nearly 1,200 randomly selected U.S. adults participated in RJI’s third annual Mobile Media News Consumption survey between Jan. 1 and March 31. This phone survey focused exclusively on the use of smartphones and touch-screen tablets with mobile operating systems. RJI’s previous surveys included questions about the use of e-readers and other Internet-enabled mobile devices, such as netbooks, tablet PCs, hand-held computers and ultra-light notebooks.


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