How do people who are sources for journalists see the news?

by | Mar 5, 2018 | Blog

As we move forward with our newsroom project — working with journalists and community members to boost the community information ecosystem — we’re doing some research beforehand.

Thumbs up, down and sideways

We’re posting a draft today of the third of three surveys. The first is aimed at measuring a community’s news “awareness,” as we’re putting it. The second looks at gauging attitudes in the newsroom.

This one asks a third constituency for views and ideas: people who have been covered by journalists, or who are sources for coverage on a routine basis.

While some of these folks may have cynical views about the craft of good journalism, sometimes fairly, our experience in journalism tells us they also — in general — are experienced news consumers who recognize the need for strong, honest community news coverage. We’re asking for their help in moving forward with our experiments.

We’re grateful to Talia Stroud and Gina Chen from Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas/Austin. We asked them to put together a kind all-star collection of great questions others have asked, includng their own. Then, with input from media literacy scholar Renee Hobbs of the University of Rhode Island, the American Press Institute and others, they put this survey draft together. We talked it over with them, and suggested some changes, as did our ASU-Cronkite School colleague Hazel Kwon.

We believe the survey will be useful to us, our newsroom collaborators, and others in journalism. We’re looking for public feedback now.  (Like everything else we’re doing, this will be freely available to others for use as they wish as soon as we’re done with our initial surveys.)

Right now, we’re we are looking for feedback from anyone. Please email your thoughts to We plan to take this “into the field,” as survey researchers like to put it, in the near future. We’re also posting the survey on Medium and our Facebook page, so feel free to leave comments there as well.

Again, this is a draft. We hope you’ll find it interesting, whether you are a journalist or a news consumer.

News Sources Survey

  1. News Consumption: For each of the following, please indicate how often you get this type of news — through any form of media. “How often” scale:  1 (not at all); 2 (once a week); 3 (a few times a week); 4 (once a day); 5 (more than once daily). Offered in random order: a) Local News; b) national news, c) specific news organization (such as the Kansas City Star).
  2. News Awareness: Each news organization provides a major news event or issue to which it has dedicated extended coverage and has garnered large readership in the past 12 months, to be used in this question: How much, if anything, have you read or heard about (major news event)? “How much” scale: 1 (a lot); 2 (a little);  3 (nothing at all).
  3. Media Literacy: (Adapted from Pew Research, 2017). Which of the following comes closest to describing you? a. I do NOT need help finding the information I need online; b. I can search the information I need online without others’ guidance; c. I need help getting the information I’m looking for online.
  4. Media Habits: Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each of the following statements. Scale: 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). In random order: a. I can usually figure out if the information I find online is correct and reliable; b. when I’m interested in a topic, I gather ideas from several different news sources to get a full picture.
  5. News Engagement: (Center for Media Engagement, 2017) Statements offered in a random order. Use scale in which 1 means you strongly disagree, and 5 means you strongly agree. Please tell us whether you agree or disagree that (the specific news organization) … a. Is concerned with my interests; b. Is focused on helping people like me; c. Cares about getting the facts right; d. Explains how and why it decides what stories to cover; e. Is fair in its reporting; f. Knows the community well; g. Provides all the information I need to fully understand its stories; h. Invites the community to suggest story ideas and help with reporting; i. Tells me who its journalists are and what they do.
  6. News Credibility:  “How well do the following adjectives apply to <Name of specific news organization, e.g. Kansas City Star> … ” For the pairing Fair/Unfair, we’d like you to  pick any spot on a five-point scale: Totally fair, mostly fair, in the middle, mostly unfair, totally unfair. [Random order for these pairings: Fair/Unfair; Biased/Unbiased; Accurate/Inaccurate; Trustworthy/Untrustworthy; Credible/Not credible; Transparent/Not transparent; Engaging/Not engaging
  7. News Source: How often have you been cited as a source in content published by the <Name of specific news organization, such as the Kansas City Star>? In random order. Scale: 1 (Just once) 2 (A few times, but it’s not a common thing) 3 (Many times. I’m a frequent or recurring source).
  8. News Experience: Statements come in random order, scale about how often the events occurred is 1 (never) to 5 (frequently).  How often, if at all, has coverage quoting / citing you … a. Contained grammatical or typographic errors; b. Contained factual errors; c. Misquoted the words I said; d. Lacked context (for example, left out important information); e. Been unfair (for example, gave a false implication).
  9. Corrections: When <Name of specific news organization> has been in the wrong when citing or quoting you, have you ever asked for a correction? Scale: 1 (yes); 2 (no); (3) haven’t been in this situation.
  10. [IF YES] How would you rate the responsiveness of the <Name of specific news organization> to your complaint? Scale: 1 (not responsive at all) to 7(very responsive)
  11. [IF YES] Did <Name of specific news organization> take any of the following actions? Check all that apply: a. Corrected the mistake promptly; b. Corrected the mistake in a visible manner; c. Corrected the mistake adequately; d. Repeated the error while correcting the mistake; e. Explained in public why the mistake happened; f. Explained to you personally why the mistake happened; g. Corrected the mistake in future news coverage
  12. [IF YES OR NO] Was there an impact from the mistake? In other words, did it cause you harm, embarrassment, or other difficulties? Please explain.
  13. [IF NO] If you didn’t ask for a correction, please select which of the following BEST describes your reason. In random order: a. The newspaper makes mistakes all the time, so what’s the point?; b. I thought it would be a hassle to ask for a correction; c. I thought it would be difficult to find the right person; d. I didn’t think the problem was a big enough deal; e. I don’t really like to complain; f. Other (explain)
  14. Given your experiences, would you agree to be a source in the future for a reporter with the <Name of specific newspaper e.g. Kansas City Star>? Scale: 1 (yes); 2 (no); 3 (not sure).
  15. Given your experiences would you agree to be quoted by the same reporter at <Name of specific newspaper e.g. Kansas City Star> who made the error? Scale: 1 (yes); 2 (no); 3 (not sure).
  16. Demographics: <Gender> Male, Female; <Age> State your age as of your last birthday _________; <Education level>  Some high school; High school graduate; Associate’s Degree; Bachelor’s Degree; Master’s Degree /Professional Degree or higher; Prefer Not to Respond; <Household Income> Less than $30,000 annually; $30,001 to $50,000 annually; $50,001 to $75,000 annually; $75,001 to $100,000 annually; $100,001 to $150,000 annually; Greater than $150,000; Prefer Not to Respond <Race> Asian/Pacific Islander; Black/African American; White/Caucasian; Hispanic/Latino/Latina; Native American/Alaska Native; Other/Multi-racial; Prefer Not to Respond <Party> Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a: A Democrat; A Republican; An Independent; Other (please specify); Prefer Not to Respond

(Image by Sean MacEntee —

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