One Simple Chart: News Consumption in the US

A recent AAAS study – Evaluating the fake news problem at the scale of the information ecosystem – contained interesting data on news consumption in the US. Only a small share of minutes (14%) of total media consumption (Online and TV) is spent on news:

The goal of the study was to put fake news into context, and the authors concluded that too much attention is placed on fake news:

First, news consumption of any sort is heavily outweighed by other forms of media consumption, comprising at most 14.2% of Americans’ daily media diets. Second, to the extent that Americans do consume news, it is overwhelmingly from television, which accounts for roughly five times as much as news consumption as online. Third, fake news comprises only 0.15% of Americans’ daily media diet. Our results suggest that the origins of public misinformedness and polarization are more likely to lie in the content of ordinary news or the avoidance of news altogether as they are in overt fakery

What I do know is that online news sources, forums, and social networks have, in the past been able to shape what TV news programs cover. And with the Presidential elections in the US starting to heat up, I find myself still nervous about what the average viewer is learning when they consume 50+ minutes of news from TV each day.

This study took place from January 2016 to December 2018, long before COVID-19 and shelter-in-place may have affected media consumption habits. A March/2020 analysis hinted that news has become America’s biggest pastime.

Here’s an alternate view which uses percentage breakdowns:

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