Readers Define Big TV Networks, Newspapers As Mainstream Media

With critics on both sides of the political aisle criticizing news outlets, it may not be easy to define “mainstream media.” In March, Pew asked 12,045 Americans to do so. 

It found that people consider seven out of 13 outlets mentioned to be mainstream: ABC News, CNN, Fox News, New York Post, MSNBC, TheNew York Times and TheWall Street Journal.

Most Americans didn’t know enough to classify the other six outlets. For instance, 65% couldn’t decide if Vox is part of the mainstream media. And 57% felt the same away about Newsmax, and 56% regarding Breitbart.  

Specifically, the following percentages said these outlets are mainstream: 

  • ABC News—88% 
  • CNN—87% 

  • The New York Times—79% 

  • MSNBC—78% 

  • Fox News—73% 

  • advertisement


    The Wall Street Journal—71% 

  • New York Post—61% 

  • HuffPost—37% 

  • BuzzFeed—22% 

  • The Sean Hannity Show (radio)—20% 

  • Vox—12% 

  • Newsmax—12% 

  • Breitbart—9% 

In general, people are likely to say that an outlet from which they got political news in the past week is mainstream media. Case in point: 65% of those who read HuffPost see it as mainstream, versus 34% who do not. 

But 94% of those who read The New York Times for political news in the past week see it as mainstream, compared to 74% who did not. And 78% of recent viewers see Fox as mainstream, versus 69% who have not viewed it. 

Moreover, political opposites seem to agree on some choices: 75% of see Fox News as mainstream, and so do 72% of Democrats and Democratic leaners, despite Fox’s derogatory comments about the “mainstream media.”

In contrast, 88% of Republicans and GOP leaners see ABC News as mainstream, and 89% on the Democratic side. 

Newsmax stands out — 84% who see it as their main source of political news say it is not part of the mainstream, and the remainder believe it is. But 97% agree it presents news differently from other news organizations. 

Only 30% feel TheNew York Times presents things differently.  

Next story loading loading..