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Society, Media, and Public Affairs

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Tracking Americans’ Opinions and the Media That Inform Them

Timely polls and long-term studies probe American attitudes today and over time

In a social and political climate in which the validity of the news itself is a topic of contentious debate, understanding how Americans consume and interpret news media is an increasingly compelling concern. The Media Insight Project, an ongoing collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, conducts high-quality, innovative research meant to inform the news industry and the public about various important issues facing journalism and the news business.

Ten to Four
The Media Insight Project has released more than 10 reports in its nearly 4 years of existence.

The Media Insight Project’s study, Partisanship and the Media: How Personal Politics Affect Where People Go, What They Trust, and Whether They Pay, investigates how Americans of different partisan stripes get their news, as well as their attitudes toward the news media. The study found that Republicans and Democrats are in many ways strikingly alike in their news consumption behavior, but remarkably different in their attitudes toward the news. They are equally likely to pay for news, to get news from social media, to seek it out actively rather than passively, and to get news multiple times a day. Republicans and Democrats are also about equally likely to cite a local news source when asked about the news media they use most often and are equally likely to follow news about their towns and neighborhoods. However, Republicans are less satisfied than Democrats—even with the news sources for which they pay and that they use most often.

Thirty Percent
of Democrats trust information from the media a lot. Only 12% of independents, and 8% of Republicans do.

Democrats, for instance, are more likely than Republicans to say both the sources they use for free and the sources they pay for are reliable and that their paid sources are a good value.

In addition to its Media Insight Project and other in-depth explorations of subjects such as long-term care and aging and retirement, The AP-NORC Center conducts monthly polls on emerging issues using NORC’s nationally representative, probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel. This timely and rigorous research is then disseminated by AP to help inform public policy debates as they are taking place. In 2017, The AP-NORC Center’s monthly polls examined Americans’ views on such topics as replacing the Affordable Care Act, the Paris Climate Agreement, and their summer travel plans.