23 February 2016

Google, cable news and newspapers beat Twitter


Which sources of news would you choose if you could only have three?

If I had to pick from the list I prepared for YouGov’s First Verdict panel I would have chosen a national newspaper, Twitter and a search engine. In two of those choices I’m in touch with US citizens but it seems that my enthusiasm for Twitter is not so widely shared. In fact it is shared by a relatively small minority. Only 9% would choose the economically-troubled social media network as one of their top three sources of news. Podcasts at 7% are almost as popular. The finding reminded me of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s observation that “Britain and Twitter are not the same thing”. While journalists like myself may spend a lot of time sending and reading Tweets we are not necessarily immersing ourselves in a representative understanding of the whole public.

The graph below confirms that getting to the top of search engine results (“Search Engine optimisation” as it is called) is the bullseye if you want to reach the American public. A close second is reaching people via cable news channels like Fox News and CNN. And the, third, is via a national newspaper like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.

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Trevor Noah may be struggling to fill Jon Stewart’s large shoes but satirical news shows like Comedy Central’s Daily Show presented by the South African TV host are still a top three news choice for 20% of our panel.

For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

For the complete Portrait of America catalog, click here.

Tim Montgomerie is Editor of Portrait of America