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Monmouth University Polling Institute

New Jersey Information Sources

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Garden State relies on TV for state news, newspapers for local info

Where do New Jerseyans get most of their information on state politics and public affairs?  According to the Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll , television leads the list at 41%, followed by newspapers at 28%, the Internet at 19%, and radio at 6%.  Regular newspaper readers tend to be more interested in national or local happenings rather than state news.  However, the poll also suggests that newspaper readers may be more familiar with state political figures than are those who rely on other media for New Jersey specific information.

Despite what they use to get most of their state-level news, Garden State residents get information from a variety of sources:

•     43% watch a news broadcast from a New York City or Philadelphia television affiliate nearly every day, with 70% having done this in the past month;

•     42% read a newspaper nearly every day, with 80% having done this in the past month;

•     32% visit a news website nearly every day, with 61% having done this in the past month; and

•     22% listen to talk radio nearly every day, with 41% having done this in the past month.

In general, television and print media are used about equally, but most New Jersey newspaper readers say they tend to look mainly for local community news (42%) when they open a paper.  Even national news (30%) beats out state news (15%) as the type of coverage New Jersey newspaper readers are most interested in from their print media.

"Like most Americans, New Jerseyans have become accustomed to turning on the television for news updates.  However, the focus of TV coverage tends to be national or the city where those media outlets are located, while newspapers are favored for their local news coverage.  Since we lack a home-grown broadcast media market, this leaves a gap for state-level news exposure in New Jersey," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

New Jersey based outlets - regardless of medium - are seen as providing better coverage of the state than New York or Philly news organizations.  Specifically, 59% of New Jersey residents give state based newspapers a positive rating of excellent or good for the job they do covering Garden State news, while only 27% give them a negative rating of only fair or poor.  New Jersey based cable news channels and public television also get a 59% positive rating, with only 23% negative.  New Jersey based news radio stations garner a 45% positive to 25% negative rating for how they cover the state.

Out-of-state media tend to earn lower ratings for how they cover New Jersey.  New York and Philadelphia based newspapers garner 27% positive to 38% negative ratings, television affiliates in those cities get 34% positive to 45% negative ratings, and city-based radio stations earn 29% positive to 42% negative ratings for the job they do covering New Jersey.

Interestingly, out-of-state media tend to be rated worse by newspaper-reliant residents than by those who get most of their New Jersey information from television.  Specifically, those who rely more on newspapers for New Jersey information give lower ratings to out-of-state media (26% positive-43% negative for NYC/Philly newspapers and 29%-46% for NYC/Philly TV), when compared with television-dependent residents (29% positive-30% negative for NYC/Philly newspapers and 40%-39% for NYC/Philly TV).

"Newspaper readers in New Jersey appear to be more demanding of New York and Philadelphia media outlets when it comes to coverage of their home state than are those who rely mainly on television for Garden State news," said Murray.


- Who reads, watches, surfs, and listens -  

Overall, 64% of New Jerseyans report reading a state-based newspaper at least once in the past week.  Newspaper readership is highest in the Jersey Shore counties, and these residents are most likely to turn to in-state news sources.  Specifically, 75% of Northern Shore and 76% of Southern Shore residents have read a local newspaper in the past week.  They are followed by 65% of Urban Core residents, 61% in Northeast Jersey, 58% in the Route 1 Corridor counties, and 55% in the Delaware Valley.

In terms of local television news viewership, Urban Core (54%) residents in the New York media market and Delaware Valley (54%) residents in the Philadelphia media market are most likely to report watching a local TV newscast nearly every night.  Route 1 Corridor residents (33%) are the least likely to tune into a network TV affiliate newscast.

On the other hand, Route 1 Corridor residents (37%), along with those in the Western Hills (37%) and Northern Shore (34%), are the most likely to surf the Internet nearly every day for news on national and international issues.  However, they are not any more likely than residents in other parts of the state to visit websites for news about New Jersey or their local communities.  While 53% of New Jerseyans surf the web for national news at least monthly, including 29% who do so about daily, only 41% look for state or local news on the Internet monthly, including just 12% who do so nearly every day.

Also, 25% of New Jerseyans report that they have visited a political website in the past year, which is up slightly from the 19% who had done so in 2005.

The 41% of New Jerseyans who report listening to talk radio in the past month is down slightly from 55% in 2006.  Among those who listen to talk radio, New Jersey 101.5 (23%) is the most frequently mentioned station, more so in Central Jersey (35%) and South Jersey (27%) than in North Jersey (12%).  The second most frequently mentioned station is WABC 770 (20%), especially in North Jersey (29%), with fewer listeners in Central Jersey (18%) or South Jersey (9%).

New Jersey 101.5 is known for its commentary on state issues and politics.  The poll indicates that the majority (52%) of the station's audience considers themselves to be politically independent, with 29% saying they are Democrat and 18% Republican.  This compares to a partisan identification of 41% independent, 37% Democrat and 22% Republican for all New Jersey adults.   In this year's gubernatorial election, though, NJ101.5 listeners preferred Republican Chris Christie by a more than 2 to 1 margin over Democrat Jon Corzine.  [ Note: this poll was taken in late September 2009. ]


- Media Exposure and Mayoral Name Recall -  

In a test of basic topical knowledge, New Jersey residents were asked to name the current mayors of New York City, Philadelphia, and Newark.  The purpose was to examine whether media exposure in different markets has an impact on the ability to recall these names.  Overall, 69% of state residents can name New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, 13% can name Philly Mayor Michael Nutter, and 30% can name Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

As may be expected, each mayor is better known in the regions nearest his own city.  About 8-in-10 residents of New Jersey's 14 northernmost counties (from Ocean and Mercer north) can name the New York City mayor.  This compares to 4-in-10 Delaware Valley residents and 2-in-10 Southern Shore residents who can name Bloomberg.  The high statewide name recognition is not unusual given the fact that two-thirds of the state is covered by the New York media market, and Bloomberg is a two-term mayor of the nation's largest city who was running for another term when the poll was taken.

Philadelphia Mayor Nutter is best known in the Delaware Valley (63%) and Southern Shore (42%) regions.  He is practically unknown - well below 10% - in other parts of the state.

Newark Mayor Booker is best known in the Urban Core region (57%), which includes his home county of Essex.  About 3-in-10 residents in other northern and central regions of the state can also name the mayor of New Jersey's largest city.  Only about 1-in-10 South Jersey residents can name Newark's mayor.

While these regional differences are to be expected, there is some interesting interaction with media exposure and the ability to name these mayors.  Daily reading of a newspaper, watching TV news, or listening to talk radio has little impact on the ability to name the current New York mayor, although there is some indication that South Jersey residents who listen to talk radio, as opposed to reading New Jersey newspapers, are better able to recall Bloomberg's name.  The ability to name Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia is also largely unrelated to media exposure type.

The ability to name the mayor of Newark, though, improves among New Jersey residents who read state-based newspapers.  Statewide, 36% of weekly New Jersey newspaper readers can name Mayor Booker compared to just 20% of those who do not read local papers.  This newspaper exposure effect is limited to the northern and central regions of the state, though, where the effect averages about +18 points.  In southern New Jersey, reading a local newspaper has no impact on the ability to name Newark's mayor.  Also, more than half of all North Jersey residents who read any newspaper daily (52%) or listen to talk radio daily (52%) can name Cory Booker as mayor of Newark compared to 4-in-10 of those who watch New York-based television news daily (43%).

"These results raise a good question.  Does a newspapers reader's better ability to name Mayor Booker extend to other areas of knowledge about New Jersey politics and public affairs?  These findings are merely suggestive, but they illustrate the role different types of media play in informing the citizenry," said Murray.

Media Exposure and Mayoral Name Recall  

Can name the mayor of:  


Read NJ newspaper  weekly  

Read any newspaper daily  

Watch local TV news daily

Listen to talk radio daily  



Newark (Booker)







New York (Bloomberg)







Philadelphia (Nutter)







The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll  was conducted by telephone with 903 New Jersey adults from September 24 to 29, 2009.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.3 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Gannett New Jersey newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     Where do you get most of your information about politics and public affairs in New Jersey – from newspapers, television, radio, the Internet, or somewhere else?

2.     I’d like you to rate the job that different media sources do covering news about New Jersey.  Do [READ ITEM] do an excellent, good, only fair, or poor job covering news about New Jersey? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED] 

        -  New Jersey based newspapers

        -  New Jersey based cable news channels and N.J.N. public television

        -  New Jersey based news radio stations

        -  New York or Philadelphia based newspapers

        -  New York or Philadelphia based local T.V. news

        -  New York or Philadelphia based news radio stations

3.     Do you ever read a newspaper, that is an actual printed newspaper and not a news website?  [If “Yes”: How often have you read a printed newspaper in the past month – at least 4 days a week, 1 to 3 days a week, less often, or not in the past month?]

4.     Read a New Jersey-based newspaper in past week.

[The following question was asked only of those who have read any newspaper in the past month, moe= +/- 3.5%]

5.     Other than sports and features, what type of news coverage do you most look for in newspapers – national, state, or local community news?

6.    Do you ever visit websites to get news about national or international issues?  [If “Yes”:   How often have you done this in the past month – at least 4 days a week, 1 to 3 days a week, less often, or not in the past month?]

7.     Do you ever visit websites specifically to get news about New Jersey or your local community?  [If “Yes”: How often have you done this in the past month – at least 4 days a week, 1 to 3 days a week, less often, or not in the past month?]

8.     Do you ever watch LOCAL television news broadcasts on New York or Philadelphia stations, such as the 5, 6, 10, or 11 o’clock news?  [If “Yes”: How often have you watched in the past month – at least 4 days a week, 1 to 3 days a week, less often, or not in the past month?]

9.     Do you ever listen to talk radio?  [If “Yes”: How often have you listened in the past month – at least 4 days a week, 1 to 3 days a week, less often, or not in the past month?]

10.   In the past year, have you visited the Internet website of any political candidate or organization?

[Questions 11-13 were rotated]

11.   Can you tell me the name of the mayor of Newark, New Jersey?

12.   Can you tell me the name of the mayor of Philadelphia?

13.   Can you tell me the name of the mayor of New York City?

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll was conducted and analyzed by the Monmouth University Polling Institute research staff.  The telephone interviews were collected by Braun Research on September 24-29, 2009 with a statewide random sample of 903 New Jersey adults. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

New Jersey regions:  Northeast (Bergen, Passaic); Urban Core (Essex, Hudson); Route 1 Corridor (Mercer, Middlesex, Union); Western Hills (Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, Warren); Northern Shore (Monmouth, Ocean); Delaware Valley (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester); Southern Shore (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem)

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues which affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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- Monmouth University Polling Institute