CHICAGO — For all they disagree on, Democrats and Republicans would seem to get their news in similar fashions, perhaps because so few actually find the mainstream media to provide accurate coverage in the current climate, a new study finds.
Researchers at the Media Insight Project conducted two separate studies this past spring, interviewing more than 4,200 American adults in hopes of gaining insight on how partisanship affects news consumption.
Surprisingly, sentiments were pretty consistent in many regards, although conservatives and independents seemed less satisfied with the quality of their news sources than liberals.
“Although Republicans and independents are more skeptical of the media than Democrats, people on either end of the political spectrum are consuming news in quite similar ways,” says Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, one of the groups behind the Media Insight Project, in a press release.
Rosenstiel adds that the notion that the left and right consume “entirely different news sources, isn’t true.”
In terms of frequency of news consumption, 72 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans, and 61 percent of independents reported getting their news multiple times a day.
A majority of individuals across the political spectrum actively sought out their news, and about three-fourths of all individuals consumed news on social media.
The study also found that more than half of respondents paid for news in some fashion (58 percent of Democrats versus, 56 percent of Republicans). Interestingly, only around a fifth of respondents said they regularly used a local news source.
Still, there were some clear divisions in terms of news networks that people watched.
For example, 40 percent of Republicans watched Fox News, compared to 16 percent of independents and only seven percent of Democrats.
Meanwhile, 30 percent of Democrats got news their from CNN, while only 18 percent of Republicans did the same.
Democrats were nearly four times as likely (30 percent) as Republicans (8 percent) to say the news media was accurate, and more than three times less likely to say that news organizations prevent political leaders from doing their job (17 percent versus 59 percent).
All in all, however, consumption-wise, there were still many similarities between different partisan groups.
Nearly identical percentages of Democrats and Republicans followed the same types of news stories (e.g., politics) and used the same types of technology for news consumption (e.g., smartphones or tablets).