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  • I'm CEO of Newspeg.com, a social news-sharing platform. I've spent 20 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies. You can read more about me here.

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June 19, 2009


Elaine Clisham

Statistics geek here: While I don't disagree that the results for newspapers are grim, I do need to mention, pursuant to your caveat, that "the survey contacted 3,000 people." That's a huge difference from getting 3,000 responses. They don't say how many completed responses they got, and they don't give the confidence level for that margin of error, so these numbers could be spot-on or they could be wildly inaccurate. Numbers without statistical context will sit still for anything.

I also don't see much detail here about methodology -- was the contact simply an email to a list, with a link, which means it's an opt-in survey? -- which only heightens my suspicion that some of the results don't mirror the American demography overall. I think the best you can extrapolate from these numbers as they're currently presented is overall trends; I wouldn't give too much credibility to much of the drilldown.


Are survey questions careful to distinguish between the source of news and its means of delivery? If someone asks me whether I get my news in print or online, I can say online without hesitation. If I'm asked whether I get my news from the Internet or newspapers, I do not know how to answer, because the sources are (mostly) newspapers and their traditional kin, but they come to me by way of the Internet.

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