The term “mainstream media” has long been used to refer to established journalism outlets in the United States. In recent years, it has also been used in a more critical context, including by former President Donald Trump, other politicians and members of the media themselves.
To learn more about how Americans think about the term, Pew Research Center asked U.S. adults whether they consider each of 13 different news outlets to be a part of the mainstream media or not. The outlets were selected to represent a range of audience sizes and sectors.
Overall, a majority of Americans consider seven of these outlets to be part of the mainstream media. That includes the one national network news outlet included in the analysis (ABC News), all three major cable news outlets asked about (MSNBC, Fox News and CNN) and three legacy print publications: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.
The remaining six outlets in the survey – five of which began as digital entities – draw different responses from the public, with a plurality or majority of Americans saying they don’t know enough to decide whether each one is part of the mainstream media or not. Nearly two-thirds of adults (65%), for example, say they don’t know enough to decide whether Vox is part of the mainstream media, while majorities say the same about Newsmax (57%) and Breitbart (56%).
Americans are slightly more likely to say HuffPost is part of the mainstream media than not part of it (37% vs. 20%), while the reverse is true for BuzzFeed (22% vs. 31%) and the Sean Hannity radio show (20% vs. 37%). Still, pluralities say they don’t know enough about each of these outlets to decide.
The survey also asked respondents which of these sources they turned to for political news in the past week.
Respondents who use an outlet for political news are more likely to say that outlet is part of the mainstream media than those who don’t turn to it. For example, 92% of those who got political news from CNN in the past week consider the cable network part of the mainstream media, compared with a smaller share of those who didn’t get political news from CNN (82%).
For some sources, these differences are dramatic. Those who use HuffPost for political news are about twice as likely as those who don’t to say the outlet is part of the mainstream news media (66% vs. 34%). And about a third of those who use Newsmax for political news say it is part of the mainstream media (31%), compared with just 10% of those who don’t use it for news.
Notably, while the term “mainstream media” has been used in many partisan contexts, there is wide agreement between Republicans and Democrats about whether the outlets in the survey are part of the mainstream news media or not.
One example is Fox News, which often features commentary about the mainstream media in its opinion content. Three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents see Fox News as part of the mainstream media, as do 72% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. Some partisan differences do emerge in views of smaller outlets. Republicans, for instance, are twice as likely as Democrats to say Newsmax is part of the mainstream news media, though only small minorities in both parties say this (16% vs. 8%).
In addition to asking Americans whether they got political news from various outlets in the past week, the survey also asked respondents in an open-ended question what their main source of political news is. The Center then asked them to decide whether their main source of news is part of the mainstream media or not – and whether they think that source presents news differently from most outlets.
Of the main sources named by at least 2% of the public, some interesting distinctions arise. Newsmax stands out because a majority of those who name it as their main source say it is not a part of the mainstream media (84%); only 16% say it is. What’s more, 97% say Newsmax presents news differently than most news organizations.
A different dynamic emerges around Fox News and NPR. About two-thirds of those who say Fox News is their main source for political news (65%) see the network as part of the mainstream media. The same is true of 88% of those who name NPR as their main political news source. Yet majorities in both groups – 80% of those who turn mainly to Fox News and 66% of those who turn mainly to NPR – say each outlet presents news differently than most outlets.
Large majorities of those who turn mainly to other outlets for political news – including local TV, network TV, the other two major cable TV sources (CNN and MSNBC) and The New York Times – see these outlets as part of the mainstream news media, and majorities also say these sources do not present news differently than most news outlets.
TikTok Launches #FactCheckYourFeed
Misinformation has become a key focus for every digital platform, and this week, TikTok has announced a new initiative to help improve digital literacy, and stop the spread of misleading reports within its app.
Called #FactCheckYourFeed, the new campaign aims to help equip TikTok users with the skills they need to “critically engage with content, navigate our platform safely and guard themselves against potential harms.”
Digital literacy is now a critical consideration for social media platforms specifically, with around 71% of people now getting at least some of their news input from social media apps. That makes all social platforms key news sources, and with the real-time, public nature of social feeds, that also lends the medium to misinformation campaigns, and targeted pushes aimed to influence public action based on variable agendas, according to SocialMediaToday.
And while TikTok is not considered a key source of such efforts, it is being targeted by misinformation and disinformation groups.
Nutty Mic: Mr. Peanut Gets a (Slight) Makeover
Planters is the latest brand to get a bit of an update, unveiling a more modern style and a minor makeover of Mr. Peanut.
Don’t worry, he’s not going back to being a Baby Nut.
The Planters refresh comes as Kraft Heinz prepares to sell the 115-year-old nut brand to Hormel Foods.
The overhaul comes after Planters sat out the 2021 Super Bowl, following a 2020 Super Bowl campaign that saw the brand kill off Mr. Peanut and had him resurrected as a Baby Nut during a funeral. The legume spokesman then aged during the year, including a stint as a 21-year-old and, eventually, became more like his former, older self.
Now, Mr. Peanut’s slightly updated look includes more of a cartoon feel. His top hat rests on top of his peanut head rather than askew and his monocle has a slightly bolder style. So does the brand logo, which is now being backed by a deep blue used across products.
Planters is also emphasizing its heritage by calling out the year 1906. It comes weeks after another Kraft Heinz brand, Oscar Mayer, unveiled a brand overhaul and ad campaign.
What a peanut gallery!
Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!