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ProPublica’s 2018 Reader Survey Results

With over 3,000 responses, the results are in for ProPublica’s reader survey.

The results are in for this year’s reader survey. Many thanks to the over 3,000 people who responded.

Looking at this year’s results, the gender of our readers has evened out a bit. Last year, we reported 58 percent of our readers were female, which reversed a yearslong trend of majority male. This year, we are closer to an even split, with 48 percent of you being male, and 51 percent female.

How you get your news has continued on its upward trend towards digital: 77 percent of you get your national news online in some way (either directly, or through an RSS feed or mobile apps), two points more than last year. Print newspapers held steady from last year to this at six percent, while radio dropped two points to six percent and TV increased one point to 11 percent.

You continue to be a very educated group of readers. Eighty-three percent of you report having a college degree, with 49 percent having a postgraduate degree. Thirty-nine percent of you report a yearly household income of over $100,000, and 37 percent report $50,000 to $100,000.

The ages comprising our audience has fluctuated over the last few surveys. Three years ago, 65 percent of our audience was 55 years of age or older. Last year, it was 49 percent, and this year, it’s up again at 55 percent.

Eighty-two percent of you report being non-Hispanic white (down from 84 percent last year), three percent report being black or African American (up one point from last year), four percent Latino or Hispanic, two percent East Asian or Asian American. Around one percent or less of you report being South Asian or Indian American, Middle Eastern or Arab American, Native American or Alaskan native, or Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. And nine percent of you preferred not to answer the question (these numbers equal a bit more than 100 percent because we allowed folks to choose more than one box if they needed to).

This year, we modified the options when asking you about your own political leanings by adding in the qualifiers, “very” and “moderately.” Six percent of you report being conservative, five points of that being “moderately conservative.” On the other side, 84 percent report being liberal, with 47 percent at “moderately liberal,” and the other 35 percent as “very liberal.” Ten percent reported being non-ideological, and another 11 percent reported “other.” For comparison, Gallup reports that 35 percent of U.S. adults identify as conservative, 26 percent as liberal, and 35 percent as moderate. In last year’s ProPublica survey, 74 percent of you identified as simply “liberal,” one percent of you as “conservative,” and 19 percent as moderate.

As for how you view ProPublica’s political leaning, 33 percent of you consider our reporting to be liberal, just under 27 percent think we’re moderate, 40 percent consider us non-ideological (as we intend our reporting to be), and under one percent consider our reporting to be conservative in nature.

One of the new questions this year helped us learn what our audience knows about us. While we’re known for our deeply researched investigative reporting, our nonprofit mission is to use that reporting to spur change, for example, the passage of a new law. We wondered how many of our readers knew that, and it turns out many of you do — 89 percent of you to be exact, and 77 percent of you could recall an update to one of our investigations (for a full list of the kinds of impact that our reporting has spurred, head over to the Impact section of our website).

When asked which area of our work you personally find the most valuable, “exposing wrongdoing,” was at the top of that list, with 77 percent of respondents choosing it. Following that with 71 percent was “long-in depth coverage of an issue,” 67 percent of you chose “making data available to the public,” and then “spurring change,” was chosen by 50 percent.

We greatly appreciate everyone who took time to provide us with this feedback. While unscientific, these results are extremely useful as we try to understand who you are, what you value about ProPublica, and how we can better serve you.

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