No News is Better Than Fox News, Says Study

Do you want to know about current events? You can’t go wrong with the New York Times, NPR, or even “The Daily Show.” One thing you might want to avoid, however, is Fox News. A new poll shows that people who watch Fox News are less informed about current events than people who don’t watch any news.

Researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University asked 612 people from New Jersey about recent current events. Dan Cassino, a Fairleigh Dickinson professor who served as an analyst for the poll, said that the poll contained questions about the Arab Spring, the current GOP candidates, the Occupy protests, and several other major news topics.

Cassino said that Fox News viewers were 18% less likely to know that Egyptians toppled their government compared to people who don’t watch any news. Fox viewers were 6 points less likely to be aware that Syrians hadn’t overthrown their government.

“Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News… Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions that those who don’t watch any news at all.”

The report also notes that people who get their news from a print source like the NY Times or USA Today, were 12 points more likely to know about the situation in Egypt. NPR listeners also had good scores on the poll.

According to the poll, those who watched an Sunday morning news show were the most knowledgeable about international issues.

Cassino said:

“Sunday morning news shows tend to spend a lot more time on a single issue than other news broadcasts, and they are less likely to degenerate into people shouting at each other. Viewers pick up more information from this sort of calm discussion
than from other formats. Unfortunately, these shows have a much smaller audience than the shouters.”

Cassino also praised Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” for being an informative program. People who watched “The Daily Show” were 12 points more likely to identify the Occupy protesters as Democrats. Cassino said:

“Jon Stewart has not spent a lot of time on some of these issues. But the results show that when he does talk about something, his viewers pick up a lot more information than they would from other news sources.”

What do you think about the poll? Is no news really better than Fox News?