How the Medill Media Industry Survey Was Conducted

The Medill Media Industry Survey, conducted online from Nov. 30 to Dec. 28, 2020, measured the opinions of 1,387 people in the U.S. news business.

The survey was run by Associate Professor Stephanie Edgerly of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Providing logistical support was Medill Senior Associate Dean Tim Franklin, who is the John M. Mutz Chair in Local News and leads the Medill Local News Initiative.

Medill used Cision, a media listings database, to obtain email contact information from individuals who had at least one of the following keywords in their profile: columnist, correspondent, director, editor, producer, reporter, writer.

For that list, Medill removed anyone who was not currently working at a U.S. company that met at least one of the following criteria:

  • A newspaper or magazine with a print circulation above 30,000
  •  A newspaper or magazine with a print circulation above 30,000
  • An online news website with monthly traffic above 30,000
  •  A television program or station (national or regional)
  • A radio program or station (national or regional)
  • A cable/satellite program

From that list, Medill randomly selected 15,000 people and invited them to participate in the survey. More than 9 percent agreed.

Respondents came from a variety of media categories: 34.9% newspapers, 30% digital-only, 17.9% television, 11.6% radio and 5.7% magazines. About 43.3 percent of participants were supervisors.

Their mean age was 46.3 years old, with the youngest 22 and the oldest 83. About 54% were male, 44% female. Like the industry as a whole, the respondents were predominantly white. The breakdown: 75.2% white, 4.4% Hispanic, 2.6% Black, 3% Asian, 1% Native American, and 1% another race, with the rest declining to provide their race. About 54% had a bachelor’s degree, and 27.8% had a graduate degree.

Medill will publish additional data and findings from the survey in coming months.

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