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US news habits

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A survey measured the US public’s awareness of certain news stories. What does it indicate about how knowledge of current affairs is shaped?

A Pew Research Center survey of 1,002 adults measured Americans’ knowledge of key facts in the news – you can test yourself on the same 12 questions Pew asked the US public in this quiz.

Several questions were answered correctly by less than half the respondents, some by less than 30%.

While it’s difficult to compare like with like, you might not necessarily expect citizens of other nations to answer equivalent questions correctly, either. But the study does offer an insight into how knowledge is disseminated.

For instance, the survey suggested that 73% could correctly identify the federal minimum wage as $7.25 (£4.49).

By contrast, says Carroll Doherty, director of political research at Pew, «When it comes to more detailed knowledge of foreign policy – when there’s a question about Shias and Sunnis, for instance – it’s something that doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the American news media.»

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