Media Usage Study: Online & Radio Up; TV Still Most Credible

September 24, 2009

Americans are increasingly turning to online and radio sources for news and information, and are spending less time with daily newspapers and TV, according to (pdf) a media use and credibility survey commissioned by ARAnet and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.

Daily newspaper usage dropped 4.1% and TV usage dropped 3.6%, while radio usage increased 2.9% and online usage increased 1.9%, the study found.

Credibility ratings for nearly all types of media except TV rose slightly from a year ago. TV is, however, still deemed to be most credible.

The national study of US adults, now in its second year, measured the percentage of news and information Americans receive from various media sources each month. Consumers reported getting 31% of their news and information from TV, and 19.4% from both radio and daily newspapers.

The media-use rankings from the survey, compared with last year’s results:


  • Television: 31.1% (down from 34.7% a year ago)
  • Daily newspaper: 19.4% (down from 23.5%)
  • Radio: 19.4% (up from 16.5%)
  • Online: 14.6% (up from 12.7%)
  • Weekly community papers: 4.4% (down from 5.1 %)
  • Free shopper newspapers: 2.9% (up from 2.2%)
  • Magazines: 2.1% (up from 1.6%)

Educated, Affluent & Hispanic Demos Flock Online

The survey also measured media use among specific demographic groups and, according to ARAnet, revealed a trend toward? increased use of online sources for news and information among the college educated, Hispanics and those making more than $100K per year, compared with the general population.

Not surprisingly, the research also found that the younger the respondent, the more reliant that person was on online sources.

Key demographic differences:

  • Respondents with household incomes of $100K or more receive considerably more news and information from online sources (23.1% vs. 14.6% for the general population).
  • College grads report using online sources more frequently (20.0%).
  • Adults ages 18-34 report the highest reliance on online sources (22.2%).
  • Hispanics are more likely to prefer online sources (21.0%).

“The data showing an increase in online use and drop in daily newspaper consumption echoes what we’re hearing from consumers and media partners,” said Scott Severson, president of ARAnet. “Consumers want more of their information online.”

TV Drops Slightly, Still Most Credible

The was designed to gauge which media sources Americans view as the most credible sources of news and information. With the exception of TV, which dropped a tenth of a rating point, all media types stayed steady or increased slightly in credibility from a year ago.

The survey asked respondents to assign credibility scores to seven types of media, ranging from one for “not at all credible” to 10 for “extremely credible. Credibility scores:


  • Television: 6.5 on a scale of one-to-10 (down .1 from a year ago)
  • Daily newspaper: 6.3 (same as last year)
  • Radio: 6.3 (up .3 from a year ago)
  • Online: 5.7 (up .1)
  • Weekly community papers: 5.4 (up .2)
  • Magazines: 4.9 (up .3)
  • Free shopper newspapers: 4.3 (up .8)

Other survey findings:

  • College grads are more likely to trust online news (giving online a 6.3 rating vs. the 5.7 rating by the general population), and are less likely to trust TV news (giving TV a 6.1 rating vs. the 6.5 rating by the general population).
  • Respondents with annual household incomes of $100K and above trust online sources considerably more than the general population (giving online a 6.5 rating, compared with the 5.7 rating by the general population).
  • Higher-income respondents also view daily newspapers as more credible (6.8 vs. the 6.3 overall rating).

About the survey:? The survey was conducted with 1,000 US adults, ages 18+. It was conducted by phone September 10-13, 2009.

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