On the media buffet, people still seek meaty news
By Connie Cass, AP
March 19, 2014, 12:07 am TWN
WASHINGTON -- Americans of all ages still pay heed to serious news even as they seek out the lighter stuff, choosing their own way across a media landscape that no longer relies on front pages and evening newscasts to dictate what's worth knowing, according to a new study from the Media Insight Project.
The findings burst the myth of the media "bubble" — the idea that no one pays attention to anything beyond a limited sphere of interest, like celebrities or college basketball or Facebook posts.
"This idea that somehow we're all going down narrow paths of interest and that many people are just sort of amusing themselves to death and not interested in the news and the world around them? That is not the case," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, which teamed with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research on the project.
Americans today are nibbling from a news buffet spread across 24-hour television, websites, radio, newspapers and magazines, and social networks.
Three-fourths of Americans see or hear news daily, including 6 of 10 adults under age 30, the study found. Nearly everyone — about 9 in 10 people — said they enjoy keeping up with the news. And more than 6 in 10 say that wherever they find the news, they prefer it to come directly from a news organization.
The study found relatively few differences by age, political leanings or wealth when it comes to the topics people care about. Traffic and weather are nearly universal interests. Majorities express interest in natural disasters, local news, politics, the economy, crime and foreign coverage.
With so many sources and technologies, 60 percent of Americans say it's easier to keep up than it was just five years ago.
But at the same time, Jane Hall, an associate professor of journalism at American University, said no one is setting the national news agenda the way The New York Times and network evening news once did.
"I do lament those times in which something could become so important that we all watched," Hall said. "But that doesn't mean we aren't all engaged now."