There’s a strong sense among many journalistic pundits that news organizations in the social and 24-hour television age have failed consumers. Networks like MSNBC and Fox News are content to pit two talking heads against one another with wildly divergent views, in a completely unedifying display of rage. Meanwhile, the kind of “news” that’s often optimized for Facebook’s algorithms are more likely to be silly quizzes and puppy videos than hard reporting.
So are news consumers really as misinformed as they’re often made out to be?
To find out, Pew conducted a “News IQ” survey of American adults across the political and educational spectrum. The results? Not great, but we haven’t yet reached the dystopian lows of Idiocracy yet either.
Some key findings:
The question with the most correct answers was about the federal minimum wage. 73 percent of respondents knew it was $ 7.25, and young people were significantly more likely to give the correct answer than respondents over 30.
The two questions with the least correct answers, tied at only 20 percent, asked what the government spends most on (Social Security) and what percentage of people live below the poverty line (15 percent).
Republicans fared slightly better than Democrats, answering on average 5.7 out of 12 questions correctly, while Democrats only answered 5. (Independents answered 5.2 correctly).
People think the economy is worse off than it is — while only 33 percent correctly answered that the unemployment rate is 6 percent, 45 percent of respondents guessed it was either 9 percent or 12 percent.