Survey shows need for news engagement

September 23, 2014 04:30

A new survey released today shows a significant lack of engagement in news, particularly among young people.

As part of the lead-up to National News Engagement Day on October 7, the first-ever day set aside to encourage the public to engage with the news and overcome barriers to make news engagement and news literacy a national priority, the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) released a new survey, which includes measurements of the trust of the press, comparisons of traditional media to social media, and the public's grade of news coverage.

Among the findings:
  • Only 17% of Americans trust journalists
  • Only 9% of Americans trust news on #Twitter
  • Only 16% of us think news is important in our daily life
  • Just 14% of us think news media protects democracy more than it hurts it
  • Only 30% of Americans say news should be a watchdog
  • 45% of the public think online news should be free
  • Only 19% of us think being informed empowers us
  • The public grades the press on news coverage. 13% ‘A’   36% ‘B’   33% ‘C’  12% ‘D’  6% ‘F’

At a news conference in Washington, AEJMC, RTDNA and other groups stressed the importance of building new audiences for news. RTDNA's Membership and Programs Manager Karen Hansen said, "With the proliferation of content creators and aggregators across many more platforms, news is now more readily available and accessible than ever before, but this does not directly translate into increased engagement. As we’ve heard, many youth are getting no news at all, and many more don’t feel empowered to participate beyond just reading or viewing the news."
"Adding action items to news stories is also something professional newsrooms can do to encourage a deeper level of engagement with their news viewers. Already, many stations are learning to broadcast beyond their main platforms and reach a younger audience where they already are with a second screen approach," Hansen said. 
RTDNA is working with students to engage their "newsless" peers. Colleges and universities are encouraged to host news engagement activities, civic engagement organizations can host round tables and town halls, and anyone can tweet or photo or video themselves engaging with news. Here are some ways for student and professional journalists to participate:

Engagement Ideas
  • Host a community meet-and-greet at a local civics organization, community center, public library or on your campus.
  • Give a behind-the-scenes look at how the news is made.
  • Visit a high school civics class to talk about journalism or visit a college class to discuss how non-journalism majors can get engaged with news in their fields.
  • Engage young people in news on platforms they already use, such as social media
  • Role reversal: give the man-on-the-street interview a twist by asking folks in your community to interview you about being a journalist.
  • Add a suggested action item to each news story.
  • Pick a story you’ve produced and break down the life cycle of creating it, including ethical decision making and verification.
Through these and other ideas being collected on the official page, News Engagement Day aims to create a more informed public, more cognizant of the importance of the news in daily life and as a key part of democratic societies.
For more on National News Engagement Day, an effort to show that being informed is empowering, enjoyable and essential for a healthy democracy, please visit, and be sure to let us know how you plan to get involved!