NPR Listeners Best-informed, Fox Viewers Worst-Informed, Says Study

Another study has confirmed that people who only watch Fox News are less informed than all other news consumers.

NPR and Sunday morning political talk shows are the most informative news outlets, while exposure to partisan sources, such as Fox News and MSNBC, has a negative impact on people’s current events knowledge, says new study. Photo: Mr. T in DC/Flickr

A study conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, found that the average American was able to correctly answer 1.8 out of four questions on international news and 1.6 out of five on domestic while Fox News viewers only answered 1.04 domestic questions correctly, reports The Telegraph.

This is even worse than those who said they watched no media at all – which stood at 1.22.

The survey of 1185 random people conducted by landline and cell phone in early February follows a similar poll FDU conducted last November, which surveyed only New Jersey residents and returned similar results.

“These differences may be small, but even small differences are important when we’re talking about millions of people,” said Dan Cassino, political scientist and poll analyst.

“We expect that watching the news should help people learn, but the most popular of the national media sources – Fox, CNN, MSNBC – seem to be the least informative,” he said.

The report explains: “The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly — a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all.”

“On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well. And people watching only The Daily Show with Jon Stewart could answer about 1.42 questions correctly,” the reports says.

Accordng to The Huff Post, viewers of partisan MSNBC and Fox News both fared worse in answering international questions than people who watched no news.

People who only listened to NPR or watched Sunday morning talk shows or “The Daily Show” showed the best results in the study.

FDU political scientist Dan Cassino said Poynter that the results show “Ideological news sources, like Fox and MSNBC, are really just talking to one audience…. This is solid evidence that if you’re not in that audience, you’re not going to get anything out of watching them.”

Fox News responded to the survey by focusing on Fairleigh Dickinson’s academic record – Forbes ranked it 585 out of 650 US colleges.

“Considering FDU’s undergraduate school is ranked as one of the worst in the country,” a Fox News spokesman said, “we suggest the school invest in improving its weak academic program instead of spending money on frivolous polling – their student body does not deserve to be so ill-informed.”

Back in November Fairleigh Dickinson University questioned 612 adults in New Jersey about how they get their news, offering as options traditional outlets like newspapers and local and national television news, or blogs, websites and even Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”

The study, which controlled for demographic factors like education and partisanship, found that “people who watch Fox News are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government” and “6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government” compared to those who watch no news.

Overall, 53% of all respondents knew that Egyptians successfully overthrew Hosni Mubarak and 48% knew that Syrians have yet to overthrow their government.

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