June 8, 1998

Internet News Takes Off

Section 5: Attitudes Toward the News

Overwhelmingly, Americans place a premium on accuracy and timeliness and, to a somewhat lesser degree, information that is helpful and hard to find. Fully 90% say that it is important that the news is accurate; 88% say it is important for the news to be timely and up-to-date. Over three-quarters (78%) want the news to provide facts and information they can’t get elsewhere, and almost as many value news that contains information that is helpful in their daily lives.

A clear majority of the public (58%) also values caring news personalities and wants news that fits easily into their schedules. Fewer but still substantial numbers like the news to be entertaining and emotional (42% and 30%, respectively). Personable, enjoyable and emotional news is valued more by women and those without college degrees than by men and the college-educated. Women also rate news that fits into their day higher than men do.

Warm and Emotional News …

While emotionally moving news is not widely valued by the general public, this quality along with a caring anchor are significant in shaping the viewing habits of those who do value them. Americans who say it is important to have news that is emotionally stirring and presented by caring news anchors watch local, network and news magazine shows much more regularly than do those who do not rank these qualities as high. Fully 70% of those who value caring news personalities are regular viewers of local news; only 47% of those who disagree fall into this category.

These attitudinal differences do not extend to regular viewership of the all-news cable networks. Americans who value emotional news and caring anchors are not substantially more likely to be regular viewers of CNN, CNBC and MSNBC than those who do not.

Other Findings