According to the latest results from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll,
some news sources make us less likely to know what’s going on in the world. In the
most recent study, the poll asked New Jerseyans about current events at home and
abroad, and from what sources – if any – they get their information. The conclusion:
Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events,
while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than
those who say they don’t watch any news at all.
Among other topics, New Jerseyans were asked about the outcome of the uprisings in
North Africa and the Middle East this past year. While 53% of New Jerseyans know that
Egyptians were successful in overthrowing the government of Hosni Mubarak, 21% say
that the uprisings were unsuccessful, and 26% admit they don’t know. Also, 48% know
that the Syrian uprising has thus far been unsuccessful, while 36% say they don’t know,
and 16% say the Syrians have already toppled their government.
But the real finding is that the results depend on what media sources people turn to for
their news. For example, people who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hour
cable news networks, are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their
government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news
sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). Fox News watchers
are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their
government than those who watch no news.