Survey: Sunday Show Viewers, NPR Listeners Most Informed, Fox News and MSNBC Viewers Least Informed

By Alex Weprin 

A survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University suggests that listeners to NPR and viewers of “The Daily Show” and Sunday public affairs shows are more informed than people who get their news primarily from, MSNBC or Fox News.

The survey is a follow-up to a study conducted by the University last November. That survey only polled those in New Jersey, hardly representative of the country as a whole. The new survey was national, and while it is an improvement, it still has issues.

It compared people who do not regularly get news from TV or radio, to those who do, and narrowed it down to specific outlets and genres.

“These differences may be small, but even small differences are important when we’re talking about millions of people,” said Dan Cassino, political scientist and poll analyst in a statement. “We expect that watching the news should help people learn, but the most popular of the national media sources – Fox, CNN, MSNBC – seem to be the least informative.”

Of course, compared to the network morning shows and the evening newscasts, Fox, CNN and MSNBC are not by any stretch the most popular national media sources. Among those who watched cable news, Fox News and MSNBC viewers performed worse than people who didn’t get their news from TV at all. CNN viewers were about even, while Sunday show viewers, “Daily Show” viewers and NPR listeners performed better than average.

You can see all the results here (PDF).