In the mid-20th century, when media research came into its own, this task was more straightforward. There were only a few different ways to get news, and all were clearly distinct – print publications, radio or television. But over the past decades, in addition to a plethora of new forms of news (from 24-hour news channels to news websites), many news outlets no longer stay confined to producing content on only one platform. For instance, to meet the growing digital audience, newspapers like The New York Times also produce audio podcasts, which can be heard on radio stations through a smart speaker, and video series, which can be seen on a cable TV network through a streaming device (such as a Roku or Fire Stick). And cable news outlets and other news providers have an active presence on Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites, further blurring the line between platforms. Finally, there is an industry-wide concern that news consumption habits are overestimated in surveys where respondents self-report their behavior.
Given the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of this news landscape and concerns around overreporting of news consumption, Pew Research Center wanted to explore how best to measure news consumption: Where do currently used survey practices still work and where might changes be in order?
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