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Americans consider television their primary economic news source

Television is cited as the primary source of news about the economy by more Americans than daily newspapers, the Internet and radio combined. In addition, more than half of those who primarily receive their economic news from television rate the coverage as good.

Those are the results of a nationwide research report based on 450 in-depth interviews with heads of households commissioned by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism and conducted by the Behavior Research Center.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said they rely primarily on television for their economic news, while 21 percent cited newspapers, 16 percent the Internet, 8 percent radio and 7 percent “other.” Of those who specified television, 56 percent said the coverage was good, 6 percent said excellent, 30 percent only fair, 5 percent poor and 3 percent “not sure.”

Six in 10 respondents said they have made financial decisions based on economic news received from media sources.

Other findings from the research:

  • News of the financial crisis and federal bailout topped the list of most memorable financial stories of 2008 by a wide margin, followed by the housing market collapse and subprime mortgage scandal.
  • Cited as the most important business coverage was the effect of oil prices, followed by the value of the dollar and reports about companies and jobs.

“The drastic nature of recent economic and financial news has Americans constantly looking for immediate information about where things may be headed,” said Andrew Leckey, President of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. “Our research indicates they make family financial decisions based on that information, which underscores the need for accurate, quality reporting on the economy.”

The research, released today and completed at the close of 2008, is based on 450 interviews with heads of household throughout the United States who participate in financial decisions and whose household income totals $50,000 or more.

For the complete report, including the opinions of respondents comparing the news networks, click here.

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