Bostonians are "Wicked" News Junkies; Los Angelenos and Atlanta Residents Just Not That Into it

City by city, TV and online compete for leadership in news consumption

Sep 25, 2013, 10:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans are inundated with news. It reaches us 24/7. It's on our televisions, our computers, our phones. But do Americans care? Where are Americans most interested in news, and how do they prefer to keep up with it? According to a study utilizing Harris Interactive's new Harris Poll® Major Market Query (MMQ) omnibus platform, the answers to both these questions differ, market by market.

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According to the study, Americans in Boston are more likely than those in any of America's other top ten markets to describe themselves as "news junkies" (with 24% so describing themselves, vs. a 10-market average of 16%); residents of the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, are second most likely to indicate this (21%), while Americans in the Los Angeles (12%) and Atlanta (13%) markets are least likely to show this level of news interest.

These are among the findings of a Harris Poll of 2,036 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older and living in the top 10 American markets by population (roughly 200 per market), surveyed online between August 21 and 27, 2013 by Harris Interactive. The study utilized the MMQ platform, an omnibus survey offering a sample of the 10 top major metropolitan areas of the United States. (For full findings, including data tables, click here)

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, Los Angelenos are the group most likely to indicate that they are not really interested in the news (25%), while those in the NYC Metro market are least likely to indicate this (8%), indicating that they are the group most likely to be at least moderately interested in the news.

TV & online battle it out market by market
Although TV is the preferred news mode when observing the 10-city average (with 45% selecting it as their preferred way to get the news), online (40% for combined computer, tablet and mobile device preference) is hot on its heels overall and ahead of TV in many markets. Preference for news in print also varies greatly by market (highest in NYC, D.C and Boston, lowest in Houston and Atlanta), though it consistently falls behind TV and online.

TV-dominant markets (markets where TV is the top response as residents' preferred way to get the news):

  • Atlanta, GA (53% TV, 37% online, 7% print).
  • NYC Metro, NY (49% TV, 31% online, 17% print).
  • Chicago (49% TV, 36% online, 12% print).
  • Philadelphia (49% TV, 38% online, 12% print).

Online-dominant markets (markets where combined online sources – computers, tablets and mobile devices – are residents' preferred way to get the news):

  • San Francisco, CA (50% online, 36% TV, 9% print).
  • Boston, MA (49% online, 34% TV, 15% print).
  • Houston, TX (51% online, 40% TV, 5% print).
  • Washington, D.C. (45% online, 36% TV, 16% print).

Markets where the TV-online battle is too close to call:

  • Los Angeles, CA (44% TV, 43% online, 11% print).
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (45% TV, 43% online, 11% print).

What gets the most attention for an article? That's as easy as A(tlanta), B(oston), C(hicago)…
A catchy headline is generally the top factor which makes residents in these markets more likely to read an online or print article (with a 10-city average of 60% citing it as having such an effect), though it shares the top spot with interesting data or research supporting the article in Houston (56% each) and is just ahead of this second factor in Boston (59% headline, 57% interesting data or research). More city by city variance can be seen in the competition for second place, with the aforementioned interesting data (51% 10-city average) competing at the market level with an interesting picture with the article (48%).

  • In addition to tying for the top factor in Houston (56% data, 52% picture) and coming in a close second in Boston (57% data, 43% picture), interesting data or research is also a more prevalent factor in enticing readership than an interesting picture within the Dallas/Fort Worth (56% data, 47% picture), San Francisco (53% data, 44% picture), Los Angeles (48% data, 43% picture) and D.C. (48% data, 39% picture) markets.
  • An interesting picture, meanwhile, is the second strongest factor in Chicago (54% picture, 44% data) and Atlanta (46% picture, 42% data).
  • The race for second place between data and pictures is too close to call in the Philadelphia (54% data, 53% picture) and NYC Metro (51% data, 49% picture) markets.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 21 and 27, 2013 among 2,036 adults (aged 18 and over) in the top 10 U.S. markets (202 in Los Angeles, CA; 203 in San Francisco, CA; 204 in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; 204 in Houston, TX; 202 in Atlanta, GA; 205 in Chicago, IL; 206 in the NYC Metro area, NY; 203 in Boston, MA; 203 in Washington, D.C. and 204 in Philadelphia, PA). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, these data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #66, September 25, 2013
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

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