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Local Journalism in Crisis: Why America Must Revive Its Local Newsrooms

November 12, 2019

Thousands of local newspapers have closed in recent years. Their disappearance has left millions of Americans without a vital source of local news and deprived communities of an institution essential for exposing wrongdoing and encouraging civic engagement. Of those still surviving, many have laid off reporters, reduced coverage, and pulled back circulation.

Young Adults' News Behaviors and Beliefs

July 9, 2019

This report examines trust in media, showing that many young adults use news media to make decisions on policies and voting. It reveals that a majority of young adults are concerned about the impact of news on democracy and unity in the country, expressing that news organizations might divide and polarize citizens. Conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, the report analyzes the findings of a survey of 1,660 adults between the ages of 18 and 34. It also surveyed large samples of African American and Hispanic participants to explore beliefs and behaviors across races and ethnicities. The study shows that young people believe some news sources are actively hurting democracy and corroding national unity. Sixty-four percent of young adults say their least-liked news source hurts democracy and 73 percent say their least-liked news source divides the country. Only 47 percent say their favorite news source helps unite it. When comparing partisan attitudes, 51 percent of Democrats say their favorite source unites the public, while 42 percent of Republicans say the same. 

Disinformation, Fake News and Influence Campaigns on Twitter

October 4, 2018

How did misinformation spread during the 2016 presidential election and has anything changed since? A new study of more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts that linked to more than 600 misinformation and conspiracy news outlets answers this question.The report reveals a concentrated "fake news" ecosystem, linking more than 6.6 million tweets to fake news and conspiracy news publishers in the month before the 2016 election. The problem persisted in the aftermath of the election with 4 million tweets to fake and conspiracy news publishers found from mid-March to mid-April 2017. A large majority of these accounts are still active today. 

Major Internet Companies as News Editors

August 15, 2018

As part of its ongoing Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, the John S. and James L.Knight Foundation partnered with Gallup to ask a representative sample of U.S. adults for their views on the news editorial functions played by major internet companies. 

Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News

June 18, 2018

In today's fast-paced and complex information environment, news consumers must make rapid-fire judgments about how to internalize news-related statements – statements that often come in snippets and through pathways that provide little context. A new Pew Research Center survey of 5,035 U.S. adults examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that's capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it.

Does Medium Matter? Exploring the Role of Virtual Reality in Journalism

April 1, 2018

In this Knight Foundation-funded report, researchers from the Media Impact Project at the University of Southern California's Norman Lear Center partnered with Frontline and Emblematic Group to explore the impact of using VR for journalism. They found that, relative to other platforms, VR can have a greater impact on holding attention and inspiring attitude and behavior changes. However, "the platform alone is not a magic bullet— it has unique affordances which, combined with effective storytelling and appropriate choice of subject matter, had an impact on a receptive audience."

American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy

January 16, 2018

Technological advances have made it easier for Americans to connect with each other and to find information, including details about the major issues facing the country. But those advances present both challenges and opportunities for individuals and U.S. institutions. Not only is more information readily available, but so is more misinformation, and many consumers may not be able to easily discern the difference between the two.Amid the changing informational landscape, media trust in the U.S. has been eroding, making it harder for the news media to fulfill their democratic responsibilities of informing the public and holding government leaders accountable. Results of the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy show that most Americans believe it is now harder to be well-informed and to determine which news is accurate. They increasingly perceive the media as biased and struggle to identify objective news sources. They believe the media continue to have a critical role in our democracy but are not very positive about how the media are fulfilling that role.The research reported here is based on a nationally representative mail survey of more than 19,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. This project received support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Open Society Foundations.

Journalism, News, and Information

Understanding Public Media's Most Engaged Podcast Users

November 14, 2017

In April and May of 2017, Edison Research — with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation — conducted a series of online interviews with podcast listeners across a group of major podcast publishers. We collected a total of 28,964 interviews with podcast listeners 18 years of age or older, who listened to at least one audio podcast from one of six sources: National Public Radio, WNYC, American Public Media, WBUR, PRX and Gimlet Media. (For more on the methodology, please see the appendix.)

Comparing Models of Collaborative Journalism

September 1, 2017

This report explores the history of collaborative journalism, focusing on on cooperative arrangements, formal and informal, between two or more news and information organizations which aim to supplement each group's resources and maximize the impact of the content produced.

News Coverage of the 2016 National Conventions: Negative News, Lacking Context

September 1, 2016

A new report from Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzes news coverage of the 2016 Republican and Democratic national conventions, and whether this coverage, which was overwhelmingly negative, best served the needs of the public.This report is the third in a multi-part series of research analyzing news coverage of candidates and issues during the 2016 presidential election. The study examines news coverage during the four-week convention period, starting with the week prior to the Republican convention and concluding with the week following the Democratic convention.The daily news audience is larger than that of the convention viewing audience, meaning that many people learn about the conventions through the news media's version of the events. Coverage of Donald Trump continued to outpace that of Hillary Clinton during this period, but, notably, both candidates received negative coverage.Negative news reports about policy positions, for example, outnumbered positive reports 82 percent to 18 percent. Trump experienced a reversal of the "good press" he had received earlier in the campaign, with his reaction to the Democratic convention speech of Khizr Khan generating the most negative attention. Although Clinton's coverage was more positive than Trump's, it was still negative on balance, with a full tenth of her coverage revolving around allegations of wrongdoing.What appeared to be missing from this negative coverage, however, was context. For example, although Clinton's email issue was clearly deemed important by the media, relatively few stories provided background to help news consumers make sense of the issue—what harm was caused by her actions, or how common these actions are among elected officials. And in keeping with patterns noted earlier in the election cycle, coverage of policy and issues, although they were in the forefront at the conventions, continued to take a back seat to polls, projections, and scandal.This Shorenstein Center study is based on an analysis of news reports by ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Washington Times. The study's data were provided by Media Tenor, a firm that specializes in the content analysis of news coverage. The research was partially funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Modern News Consumer: News Attitudes and Practices in the Digital Era

July 7, 2016

Wave after wave of digital innovation has introduced a new set of influences on the public's news habits. Social media, messaging apps, texts and email provide a constant stream of news from people we're close to as well as total strangers. News stories can now come piecemeal, as links or shares, putting less emphasis on the publisher. And, hyper levels of immediacy and mobility can create an expectation that the news will come to us whether we look for it or not. How have these influences shaped Americans' appetite for and attitudes toward the news? What, in other words, are the defining traits of the modern news consumer?A new, two-part survey by Pew Research Center, conducted in early 2016 in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, reveals a public that is cautious as it moves into this more complex news environment and discerning in its evaluation of available news sources.To be sure, news remains an important part of public life. More than seven-in-ten U.S. adults follow national and local news somewhat or very closely – 65% follow international news with the same regularity. Fully 81% of Americans get at least some of this news through websites, apps or social networking sites. And, this digital news intake is increasingly mobile. Among those who get news both on desktop computers and mobile devices, more than half prefer mobile.In this digital news environment, the role of friends and family is amplified, but Americans still reveal strong ties to news organizations. The data also reinforce how, despite the dramatic changes witnessed over the last decade, the digital news era is still very much in its adolescence.These findings come from a two-part study which asked U.S. adults a wide range of questions about their news habits and attitudes, and then over the course of a subsequent week asked them in real time about news they had gotten in the last two hours. The first survey was conducted Jan. 12-Feb. 8, 2016, among 4,654 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who are members of Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel. The second survey consisted of 14 short, online surveys that were administered two per day from Feb. 24-March 1, 2016. Survey invitations were sent at different times each day, and responses were accepted for two hours after the invitations were sent. Panelists who completed the January wave on the web and reported that they get news online were asked to participate in the experiential study; 2,078 panelists participated and completed at least 10 of the 14 surveys.

Gaining Ground: How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability

April 8, 2015

This report builds on the prior analyses by continuing to benchmark revenue, expenses and audience metrics and to identify emerging best practices. The report analyzes trends and impact among 20 local, state and regional nonprofit news organizations. It also incorporates insights from interviews with leaders of a few additional nonprofit news organizations that have a predominantly national scope. Many, though not all, of the organizations included in the study have been funded by Knight Foundation.

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