Survey methodology

This survey was conducted by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the American Press Institute (API) and The Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey was conducted from February 16 through March 20, 2017. The survey was funded by API. Staff from API, NORC at the University of Chicago, and AP collaborated on all aspects of the study.

Data were collected using the AmeriSpeak Panel, which is NORC’s probability based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. During the initial recruitment phase of the panel, randomly selected U.S. households were sampled with a known, nonzero probability of selection from the NORC National Sample Frame and then contacted by U.S. mail, email, telephone, and field interviewers (face to face).

Interviews for this survey were conducted with adults age 18 and over representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Panel members were randomly drawn from the AmeriSpeak Panel, and 2,199 completed the survey—1,885 via the web and 314 via telephone. The sample includes 1,194 who pay for a news subscription and 1,005 who do not pay for any news. The final stage completion rate is 31.2 percent, the weighted household panel response rate is 34.4 percent, and the weighted household panel retention rate is 94.7 percent, for a cumulative response rate of 10.2 percent.

The overall margin of sampling error is +/ 2.7 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, including the design effect. The margin of sampling error may be higher for subgroups.

Respondents were offered a small monetary incentive ($3) for completing the survey. All interviews were conducted in English by professional interviewers who were carefully trained on the specific survey for this study.

Once the sample was selected and fielded, and all the study data had been collected and made final, a poststratification process was used to adjust for any survey nonresponse as well as any noncoverage or under and over sampling resulting from the study specific sample design. Poststratification variables included age, gender, Census division, race/ethnicity, and household phone status. The weighted data, which reflect the U.S. population of adults age 18 and over, were used for all analyses.

All analyses were conducted using STATA (version 14), which allows for adjustment of standard errors for complex sample designs. All differences reported between subgroups of the U.S. population are at the 95 percent level of statistical significance, meaning that there is only a 5 percent (or less) probability that the observed differences could be attributed to chance variation in sampling. Additionally, bivariate differences between subgroups are only reported when they also remain robust in a multivariate model controlling for other demographic, political, and socioeconomic covariates. A comprehensive listing of all study questions, complete with tabulations of top level results for each question, is available on the Media Insight Project’s website.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research was conducted through collaboration between staff from The Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute (API).

In January 2017, the AP-NORC Center and API conducted hour-long interviews in Chicago, IL, Birmingham, AL, and Phoenix, AZ, to explore how people across the country consume news, the sources they use, and the factors that influence whether or not they will pay for news content. No more than two participants were interviewed at a time. Eight participants were interviewed in Chicago, eight were interviewed in Phoenix, and six were interviewed in Birmingham. Participants were screened based on age, gender, employment status, income, education, race, ethnicity, and news consumption habits to include a variety of perspectives.

Participants recruited based on the criteria above received $100 for completing the interview. They were also provided an additional $10 for bringing along a friend or family member for the interview. The friend or family member also received $100 for participating.

Contributing researchers

From the American Press Institute

Tom Rosenstiel
Jeff Sonderman
Kevin Loker
Meldon Jones
Laurie Beth Harris
Jane Elizabeth
Liz Worthington
Amy Kovac-Ashley
Katie Kutsko

From NORC at the University of Chicago

Jennifer Benz
David Sterrett
Dan Malato
Trevor Tompson
Amanda Lenhart
Liz Kantor

About the Media Insight Project

The Media Insight Project is a collaboration of the American Press Institute (API) and The AP NORC Center for Public Affairs Research with the objective of conducting high quality, innovative research meant to inform the news industry and the public about various important issues facing journalism and the news business. The Media Insight Project brings together the expertise of both organizations and their respective partners, and involves collaborations among key staff at API, NORC at the University of Chicago, and The Associated Press.

About the American Press Institute

The American Press Institute (API) conducts research and training, convenes thought leaders, and creates tools to help chart a path ahead for journalism in the 21st century. API is an educational nonadvocacy 501(c)3 nonprofit organization affiliated with the Newspaper Association of America. It aims to help the news media—especially local publishers and newspaper media—advance in the digital age.

About the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The AP NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world.

The Associated Press (AP) is the world’s essential news organization, bringing fast, unbiased news to all media platforms and formats.

NORC at the University of Chicago is one of the oldest and most respected, independent research institutions in the world.

The two organizations have established The AP NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

The founding principles of The AP NORC Center include a mandate to preserve carefully and protect the scientific integrity and objectivity of NORC and the journalistic independence of AP. All work conducted by the Center conforms to the highest levels of scientific integrity to prevent any real or perceived bias in the research. All of the work of the Center is subject to review by its advisory committee to help ensure it meets these standards. The Center will publicize the results of all studies and make all datasets and study documentation available to scholars and the public.

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