U-M surveys show where Detroiters get their news


Source: Poverty Solutions



In today’s fractured media landscape, where are Detroiters getting their news?

A series of three surveys from the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study sheds new light on which media platforms are shaping Detroiters’ views. The surveys were fielded between Nov. 3, 2021, and Aug. 29, 2023. Results are weighted to reflect the population of the City of Detroit.

Television is by far the most commonly relied upon source of news, with 74% of Detroit residents saying they typically get news from TV. Local television sources are particularly popular among Detroiters, according to responses to open-ended survey questions. The most frequently mentioned local sources included Fox 2, NBC’s WDIV Local 4, and ABC’s WXYZ 7.

Online news is the second most common means of accessing the news, with 41.3% of Detroiters reporting that they typically get their news from online sources. Online news includes exclusively digital news outlets (for example, Detroiters mentioned Bridge, Vox, and HuffPost); the online version of print publications (for example, detroitnews.com, freep.com, nytimes.com, and cnn.com); and aggregators like Google News and Yahoo News.

More than one-third of Detroiters (35.2%) typically get news from social media, with Facebook and YouTube being the most commonly mentioned social media sources.

About 3 in 10 Detroiters (29.7%) typically get news from radio programs, with Detroiters saying they turn to traditional news radio like NPR or WWJ as well as stations that primarily play music like WJLB and WMXD and morning talk shows like the Breakfast Club and Steve Harvey in the Morning.

Just over one-fifth of Detroiters (21.9%) typically get news from print news sources, like newspapers or magazines. The New York Times and the Detroit Free Press were the print news sources most commonly mentioned by survey respondents.

Detroiters are less likely to report getting news from podcasts than any of the other listed sources. Only 9.2% reported typically getting their news from podcasts.

“Access to high-quality information is one of the most important elements of a healthy democracy. By understanding where Detroiters get their news, community leaders and public officials can better reach and engage them in civic and political processes,” said Mara Cecilia Ostfeld, faculty lead of DMACS and co-author of a new report, “The Media Platforms that are Shaping Detroiters’ Views.”

News consumption patterns vary by race, age, and educational attainment, the surveys found. Black Detroiters (80.5%) are far more likely to turn to television for their regular news than White (46.6%) or Latino (58.7%) Detroiters. Among Latino Detroiters, social media is more commonly relied upon than other news media sources, with 57.2% of Latinos reporting that they typically get news from social media. White Detroiters (64.3%) are most likely to get news from online news media sources, and print media is more likely to be a regular news source for White Detroiters (34%) than for Black (20.3%) or Latino (19.2%) Detroiters.

Over one-half of Detroiters between 18 and 34 (54.3%) said they typically get their news from social media, compared to 32.3% of Detroiters between 35 and 54, 18.7% of Detroiters between 55 and 64, and 21.3% of Detroiters 65 and older. Among the youngest age group, YouTube and Instagram are the most popular social media platforms to find news. Latino Detroiters – the most likely to get news from social media – reported going to TikTok (30.1%), Facebook (23.8%), Instagram (19.4%), and YouTube (19.1%) often for their news.

Television and social media are key to reaching Detroiters with fewer years of education, while online and radio sources are widely used among Detroiters with more education.

“In this era of misinformation, local and national leaders need to know how to better reach and empower Detroit residents with high-quality information. This survey analysis brings new insights into Detroiters’ media consumption habits and how they access information about events beyond their immediate social circles,” said Yucheng Fan, data manager at DMACS, who co-authored the report.

DMACS is supported by the Knight FoundationBallmer GroupKresge Foundation, and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan. The DMACS surveys analyzed in this report were conducted in collaboration with, and supported by, Michigan CEAL: Communities Conquering COVID.

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