It’s a common question that vexes survey researchers who study the media: how much do people’s responses to news consumption questions align with their actual behaviors? The sheer scale and variety of the digital news environment makes it tougher than ever for individuals to recall where they get their news. What’s more, survey takers may be inclined to give answers that they think pollsters want to hear. This gets especially challenging when trying to unpack how political views influence news habits.
For practitioners in the news industry, one of the promises of the web and of social platforms was the advent of deep analytics. And yet, insights about readers in many ways remain limited. A publisher knows how many people view and engage with their content, but not much about what motivates them.
For industry and researchers alike, powerful platforms like Facebook are opaque, especially when it comes to understanding broad patterns in news behaviors across brands (though there are some promising recent developments in data access).
That’s why the Knight Foundation and the Gallup organization developed NewsLens, an experimental platform and news aggregator to facilitate novel research on how people interact with the news online.