October 3, 2014 Last Updated 11:57 am

New Pew News IQ Quiz seeks to measure the American public’s news knowledge

Most American can correctly answer questions about recent events, or the current level of the minimum wage, but performed poorly with most other questions

Every now and then some organization surveys the American public to see what they believe, what they know. More often, Americans are surveyed about their opinions. Polls, polls, polls.

The Pew Research Center has constructed a news survey aimed at determining just how knowledgable Americans are about key news facts. For instance, what does the “Common Core” refer to? or whack African country is experiencing an outbreak of Ebola?

The-Publics-News-IQThose in the newspaper business know that readers have a good idea what kind of news they want to see in their newspapers: local. But they also judge their newspapers by how worldly they are, even if they don’t read much of the international news.

That fact comes out pretty clearly in the Pew News IQ Quiz results.

Those surveyed did fairly well with more intimate information such as what the minimum wage is today, as well as what country ISIS holds territory. But when it comes to most other news Americans got the correct answer less than 50 percent of the time.

(You can take the test yourself here, though if you have already looked at the graphic at right you probably have an advantage!)

Not surprisingly, the big variable in whether someone had more correct answers was education, and to a lesser degree, age. Less of an influence was political party preference, though supporters of the GOP average 5.7 correct answers out of 12 questions, while Democrats managed 5.0 on average. But there was no dramatically difference in which questions the respondents got right or wrong based on politics.

These surveys and quizzes can be fun, but they generally reveal only that the news media does a poor job of informing the public. News broadcasts concentrate on a couple topics at a time, and right now Ebola and ISIS are front and center – no surprise then that the questions on these topics were answered correctly more often than questions about government spending or who the Chair of the Federal Reserve is.

The Pew report was based on telephone interviews conducted September 25-28, with sample of 1,002 American adults who are 18 years of age or older, with interview conducted in both English and Spanish.

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