According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll, watching certain news sources — especially Fox News — can actually make you less informed about what’s going on in the world.
The poll asked 612 New Jerseyans about current events and from what sources they get their news. The results show a correlation between where the respondents get their news and how informed they are. Fox News in particular stood out as having poorly informed viewers.
People who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hour cable news networks, are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). Fox News watchers are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news.
“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,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll. “Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all.”
Fox News viewers are not only a whopping 18 points less likely to know what’s happening in Egypt than people who don’t watch news at all; they are also significantly less informed than viewers of other cable news networks. 57 percent of CNN and MSNBC viewers answered the Hosni Mubarak question correctly, compared to only 49 percent of Fox News viewers.
As PoliticalWire points out, the results of the PublicMind poll mirror those of a University of Maryland study from last year.
The survey showed that people who rely on NPR, Sunday morning news shows, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tend to be the most well-informed. Viewers of the 24 hour cable news networks lagged significantly behind, showing that in this case quantity is not correlated with quality.