Survey Says … In Penny-Savers We Trust

A new survey measuring media usage finds that Americans, or at least the 1,000 surveyed, are increasingly getting their news online and from radio and that television is deemed the most credible source of news.

The survey, commissioned by ARAnet, which owns online advertising networks and “places” articles for clients in print and online publications, also included a fascinating little tidbit in the print news arena. According to the survey, daily newspaper use is down to 19.4 percent from 23.5 percent last year. Interesting, but not shocking. Meanwhile, the consumption of free shopper newspapers (as differentiated from weekly community papers) is up to 2.9 percent from 2.2 percent last year. Okay. Still not shocking; in these troubled economic times, we could all use a good cat food coupon, buy-one-get-one-half-off deals on condensed milk, solid offers on collectible figurines and comprehensive listings of used cars.

What is truly eyebrow raising is that in measuring the most trusted sources of news, the survey found that daily papers’ credibility stayed the same at 6.3 percent while readers’ trust in the penny-saver actually rose. Has it gotten that bad that people trust ad copy and the fine print on a coupon more than reported news these days?

I’ve e-mailed the folks behind the survey to clarify exactly how they defined “free shopper newspaper.” Maybe it’s something more substantial than I’m imagining. Hope so. Meanwhile, there’s a great deal on lemonade mix in today’s Clip ‘N Save.

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Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.