The saying “no news is good news” takes on a whole different meaning in light of a new study [PDF] out of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Released last week, the study surveyed more than 600 New Jersey adults about current events and, later, what news media they consumed. The goal was to ascertain how informative and healthy certain news diets are. What the researchers found out may not surprise you:
For example, people who watch Fox News, the most popular of the 24-hour cable news networks, are 18 points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). Fox News watchers are also 6 points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news.
The study controlled for partisanship, which suggests that something specific to Fox News programs—not party affiliation—makes people more ignorant to certain questions. In other words, when attempting to become a well-informed adult, in some cases it’s probably better to just ignore news altogether than spend any time watching Fox News.
Researches noted that, by contrast, the most informed Americans were those who watched Sunday morning news programs and, to a lesser extent, read national newspapers and listened to NPR. So perhaps its time to stop paying for cable and start paying for that New York Times subscription you’ve been holding out on.