The city of Chicago is demographically diverse. This diversity is particularly notable across three regions: the North / Downtown, the West Side, and the South Side. To date, little is known about what people in these regions think about the Chicago news media’s coverage of their neighborhoods and issues important to them. We partnered with a local news organization, City Bureau, to better understand nuances across Chicago. Using a representative sample of 900 Chicago residents, stratified based on these three regions, we explore attitudes towards, and preferences for, Chicago news media. In general, we find that those living on the West and South Sides of Chicago felt underrepresented or poorly represented by Chicago news media, but are also the most interested in getting involved in Chicago news organizations. This research was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Study findings include:

  • Across all regions, Chicago residents see “crime and law enforcement” as the most important issue facing their neighborhood.
  • Residents in the West and South regions of Chicago are more likely to cite “crime and law enforcement” as an important issue facing their neighborhood than are residents in the North / Downtown region.
  • North / Downtown residents think Chicago news media offer better coverage of crime and law enforcement than do residents of the West or South regions.
  • West and South Side residents are more likely to see coverage of their neighborhoods as too negative and believe that it quotes the wrong people than are North / Downtown residents.
  • North / Downtown residents are more likely to say coverage of their neighborhood does a good job of showing what’s going on than West and South Side residents.
  • North / Downtown residents are more likely to have communicated with a journalist or attended an event hosted by a news organization than South Side residents.
  • Despite feeling poorly represented by Chicago news media, South and West Side residents are more interested in volunteering to report on a public meeting than North / Downtown residents are.
  • Respondents are more likely to donate $10 to a free news site than pay a fee of $10 to access news.
  • Some of the differences by region can be explained by demographic factors like race/ethnicity.

CRIME, LAW ENFORCEMENT MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOODS

Overwhelmingly, Chicago residents think the most important issue facing their neighborhood is “crime and law enforcement.” Around fifty-seven percent of Chicago residents cite “crime and law enforcement” as an important issue facing their neighborhood.

Notes: Multiple responses permitted. Question wording: “What are the most important issues facing your neighborhood?” Includes only the 770 respondents who gave a response to this question.

The issues that are important to residents of Chicago vary by region (Table 1). Residents from the West and South Sides of Chicago are more likely to cite “crime and law enforcement” as one of the most important issues facing their neighborhoods than are North / Downtown residents.1 North / Downtown residents are more likely to say “housing, zoning, and land use” and “transportation” than those in living on the West and South Sides.2 Those in the North / Downtown region also mention “education” as an important issue more than those on the West Side and the “environment” more than those on the South Side.3

Table 1. Most Important Issues Facing My Neighborhood

Issue Chicago North / Downtown West South
Crime and Law Enforcement 56.6% 41.2%* 74.4% 68.8%
Housing, Zoning, and Land Use 12.4 19.5* 6.3 6.8
Economic Issues 9.0 10.3 5.9 9.6
Transportation 6.5 8.7* 1.6 2.5
Education 4.4 6.3* 2.0* 3.5
Environmental 3.6 6.4* 4.2 0.7*


Notes: Multiple responses permitted. *Indicates region percent is statistically different from other regions at the p < .05 level. If two regions have a * they are significantly different from each other, but not from the other region.

CHICAGO MEDIA HAVE ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT IN COVERING IMPORTANT ISSUES

Just as there are differences in which issues are seen as important across the various Chicago regions, perceptions of how the news media cover these issues differ by region (Table 2). South Side residents believe that the Chicago news media does a worse job covering the most important issue facing their neighborhood compared to North / Downtown residents.4

Table 2. Perceptions of News Coverage of Most Important Issues

Issue Chicago North / Downtown* West South*
Very good job 7.4% 8.2% 7.7% 7.0%
Good job 26.1 32.6 23.3 22.0
Acceptable job 29.3 27.2 33.6 29.6
Poor job 22.7 21.0 16.5 25.0
Very poor job 12.0 7.2 17.1 15.4


Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “How good of a job would you say the Chicago news media does in covering [FIRST MENTION OF MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD]?” *Indicates that the North / Downtown region is significantly different from the South region at the p < .05 level.

When looking only at coverage of crime and law enforcement, there are significant differences in perceptions of coverage across regions. When only looking at those who cite crime and law enforcement as the most important issue facing their neighborhood, residents in both the South and West regions say the news media do a worse job covering crime and law enforcement than those residing in the North / Downtown region.5

Table 3. Perceptions of News Coverage of Crime & Law Enforcement

Chicago North / Downtown* West South
Very good job 10.4% 14.1% 6.7% 9.8%
Good job 32.0 45.7 25.7 27.1
Acceptable job 29.5 26.2 34.8 30.4
Poor job 17.5 7.1 17.3 22.1
Very poor job 10.6 7.0 15.5 10.7


Notes: Percentages for respondents who gave crime and law enforcement as their first response. Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “How good of a job would you say the Chicago news media does in covering [MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD]?” *Indicates the response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

BIG DIFFERENCES ACROSS CHICAGO REGIONS IN HOW RESIDENTS THINK THE NEWS MEDIA SEES THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS

We asked respondents to describe the way that the Chicago news media thinks about their neighborhood. Responses are markedly different in tone and topic depending on where the respondent lives. We generated word clouds based on the frequency of mentions for each word or phrase across the three regions.

Notes: Larger words or phrases indicate more mentions. Multiple responses permitted. Question wording: “If you were to describe the way the Chicago media thinks about your neighborhood, what two or three words would you use?”

NEWS SEEN AS NOT REPRESENTING NEIGHBORHOODS WELL, VARIES BY REGION

Residents living on the West and South Sides are more likely to say that stories about their neighborhood quote the wrong people than are North Side / Downtown residents (Table 4). Just over half of residents in the West (51.5%) and 41.5% percent of residents in the South agree that stories about their neighborhood quote the wrong people compared to 27.4% of North / Downtown residents.6

Notes: Percentages combine “strongly agree” and “somewhat agree” responses. Question wording: “Thinking about the stories from all local news sources that you’ve used in the past 30 days, please let me know whether you agree or disagree with the following statements… Stories about my neighborhood quote the wrong people.” The response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

Table 4. “Stories about My Neighborhood Quote the Wrong People”

Chicago North / Downtown* West South
Strongly agree 17.8% 11.5% 26.3% 25.0%
Somewhat agree 17.6 15.9 24.8 16.5
Neither agree nor disagree 17.9 24.3 6.2 12.7
Somewhat disagree 22.0 23.1 19.8 21.3
Strongly disagree 18.7 18.5 19.0 19.1
I haven’t seen any stories
about my neighborhood
 1.9  3.3  1.1  0.8


Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “Thinking about the stories from all local news sources that you’ve used in the past 30 days, please let me know whether you agree or disagree with the following statements…Stories about my neighborhood quote the wrong people.” *Indicates the response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

Those in the North / Downtown region are more likely to agree that stories about their neighborhood do a good job of showing what’s going on (62.4%) compared to those in the West (42.9%) and South (38.1%) Sides (Table 5).7

Notes: Percentages combine “strongly agree” and “somewhat agree” responses. Question wording: “Thinking about the stories from all local news sources that you’ve used in the past 30 days, please let me know whether you agree or disagree with the following statements…Stories about my neighborhood do a good job of showing what is going on.” The response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

Table 5. “Stories About my Neighborhood do a Good Job of Showing What is Going On”

Chicago North / Downtown* West South
Strongly agree 22.1% 29.0% 16.5% 15.4%
Somewhat agree 28.5 33.4 26.4 22.7
Neither agree nor disagree 9.8 9.2 4.1 10.7
Somewhat disagree 19.8 16.2 29.8 22.7
Strongly disagree 16.8 7.8 21.9 26.8
I haven’t seen any stories
about my neighborhood
2.1 3.3 0.7 1.3

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “Thinking about the stories from all local news sources that you’ve used in the past 30 days, please let me know whether you agree or disagree with the following statements… Stories about my neighborhood do a good job of showing what is going on.” *Indicates the response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

West Side residents are more likely to say stories about their neighborhood are too negative than are residents living on the North / Downtown (Table 6). Approximately 68% of residents in the West and 54.2% of residents in the South agree that stories about their neighborhood are too negative compared to 26.4% of residents in the North / Downtown region.8

Notes: Percentages combine “strongly agree” and “somewhat agree” responses. Question wording: ““Thinking about the stories from all local news sources that you’ve used in the past 30 days, please let me know whether you agree or disagree with the following statements…Stories about my neighborhood are too negative.” The response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

Table 6. “Stories about My Neighborhood Are Too Negative”

Chicago North / Downtown* West South
Strongly agree 23.5% 12.0% 41.7% 34.9%
Somewhat agree 18.1 14.4 26.1 19.3
Neither agree nor disagree 11.1 10.7 2.7 11.6
Somewhat disagree 20.0 23.9 16.7 18.0
Strongly disagree 24.3 35.7 10.8 13.3
I haven’t seen any stories
about my neighborhood
2.5 3.1 0.8 2.8

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “Thinking about the stories from all local news sources that you’ve used in the past 30 days, please let me know whether you agree or disagree with the following statements…Stories about my neighborhood are too negative.” *Indicates the response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different from the other regions at the p < .05 level.

A majority of Chicago residents agree that there aren’t enough stories about their neighborhood (59.5%) and that people from their neighborhood aren’t in the news (54.9%; see Table 7). There are no significant differences among the regions on these measures of how one’s neighborhood is represented in the news.9

Table 7. Impressions of the Amount of Neighborhood Coverage

Aren’t Enough Stories about my Neighborhood People from my Neighborhood Aren’t in the News
Strongly agree 30.5% 29.3%
Somewhat agree 29.0 25.6
Neither agree nor disagree 12.1 12.9
Somewhat disagree 14.3 18.5
Strongly disagree 12.0 10.8

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “Thinking about the stories from all local news sources that you’ve used in the past 30 days, please let me know whether you agree or disagree with the following statements… There aren’t enough stories about my neighborhood in the news media”; “People from my neighborhood aren’t in the news.” Differences across regions are not significant at the p < .05 level.

NEWS COVERAGE OF CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOODS “AVERAGE”

When asked to evaluate recently used news sources for whether they did a good job of covering Chicago respondents’ neighborhoods, most respondents gave the news media a rating of “average.”

North / Downtown residents thought the Chicago news sources that they used recently offered better coverage of their neighborhood than did residents of the West or South Sides (Table 8).10 Seventy-six percent of North / Downtown residents said coverage of their neighborhood was average or above compared to 70.8% of residents in the West and 65.9% of residents in the South.

Table 8. Chicago News Source Coverage of Chicago Neighborhoods

Chicago North / Downtown* West South
Excellent 13.5% 14.6% 8.8% 14.6%
Above average 11.8 12.3 15.8 9.5
Average 46.2 49.7 46.2 41.8
Below average 10.5 9.1 7.3 13.8
Very poor 13.4 7.2 21.0 17.8

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “Does [SOURCE 1] do a good job of covering your neighborhood?” SOURCE 1 is the first response to a question asking respondents to name the Chicago news sources they used in the past 30 days. *Indicates the response for North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

PAST JOURNALIST ENGAGEMENT LOW, BUT OPPORTUNITY EXISTS, ESPECIALLY IN THE WEST AND SOUTH

Past and future interactions with journalists differ by region. Major differences in past communication with a journalist are between the North / Downtown and South regions of Chicago (Table 9). Those in the North / Downtown region are more likely to say they have communicated with a journalist in the past (29.7%) than those in the South region (17.2%).11

Table 9. Past Communication with Journalists

Chicago North / Downtown* West South*
Yes 23.8% 29.7% 26.2% 17.2%
No 76.2 70.3 73.6 82.7

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “Have you ever communicated with journalists, whether in person, on the phone, or through the internet?” *Indicates that the probability of saying yes is significantly higher in the North / Downtown region than in the South region at the p < .05 level.

We asked respondents “How interested would you be in talking with a journalist about issues facing your neighborhood?” In response, 16.8% say they are very interested, 31.2% somewhat interested, 23.4% not too interested, and 27.4% not at all interested. There are no significant differences across the three regions in how they answer this question.12

Overall, 15.9% say that they have been to an event hosted by a news organization at some point. Those in the North / Downtown region are more likely to have attended an event hosted by a news organization than are those living on the South Side (Table 10).13

Table 10. Events Hosted by News Organization

Chicago North / Downtown* West South*
Yes 15.9% 20.1% 14.1% 11.3%
No 83.3 78.6 85.6 87.2

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “Have you ever been to an event hosted by a news organization?” *Indicates that the probability of saying yes is significantly higher in the North / Downtown region than in the South region at the p < .05 level.

Despite differences in past interactions with journalists, West and South Side residents are more interested in volunteering to report on a public meeting than are residents in the North / Downtown region (Table 11). Forty-three percent of North / Downtown residents say that they are likely to volunteer, compared with 67.4% of West Side residents and 63.5% of South Side residents.14

Data from the Center for Media Engagement

Notes: Percentages combine “very likely” and “somewhat likely” responses. Question wording: “If a local news outlet asked you to volunteer to report on a public meeting, such as a City Council or School Board meeting, how likely would you be to volunteer?” The response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

Table 11. Likelihood of Volunteering to Report on a Public Meeting

Chicago North / Downtown* West South
Very likely 16.9% 13.9% 17.4% 20.8%
Somewhat likely 36.5 29.4 50.0 42.7
Neither likely nor unlikely 6.2 7.0 2.0 5.0
Somewhat unlikely 16.8 20.0 12.4 13.4
Very unlikely 22.1 29.2 17.5 15.8

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “If a local news outlet asked you to volunteer to report on a public meeting, such as a City Council or School Board meeting, how likely would you be to volunteer?” *Indicates the response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the other regions at the p < .05 level.

MANY ACCESS, BUT FEW PAY FOR, NEWS

Although there are no differences across the regions in how many people use the internet at least occasionally (86.9% do so),15 there are differences by region in how often people access news on the internet. North / Downtown residents are more likely to access news on a desktop or laptop computer than are South Side residents (Table 12). Just over half of North / Downtown residents (51.6%) say they often access news on a desktop or laptop computer compared to 39.3% of South Side residents.16

Table 12. News Access through Desktop or Laptop Computer

Chicago North / Downtown* West South*
Never 16.6 % 10.6% 21.2% 21.9%
Hardly ever 10.0 9.3 3.1 12.4
Sometimes 27.6 28.6 34.1 26.4
Often 45.8 51.6 41.7 39.3

Notes: Question wording: “Do you get news on a…Desktop or laptop computer” *Indicates the response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the South region at the p < .05 level.

Residents in the North / Downtown region are also more likely to access news on a mobile device than are South Side residents (Table 13). Nearly 70% living in the North / Downtown region say that they access news often through mobile devices compared to around 56% of those living on Chicago’s South Side.17

Table 13. News Access through Mobile Devices

Chicago North / Downtown* West South*
Never 9.5% 7.8% 7.7% 12.6%
Hardly ever 6.0 6.4 6.2 6.5
Sometimes 22.0 16.4 30.1 24.6
Often 62.5 69.5 55.9 56.3

Notes: Question wording: “Do you get news on a… Mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet” *Indicates the response for the North / Downtown region is significantly different than the response of the South region at the p < .05 level.

In general, few Chicago residents subscribe, or donate, to a news publication. Just under 18% of Chicago residents identify that they do so (Table 14). Subscription rates differ by region. Approximately one in four North / Downtown residents say that they subscribe to a news publication compared to around one in 10 residents in the South and West Sides.18

Table 14. Percentage That Report Subscribing or Donating to a News Publication

Chicago North / Downtown* West South
Yes 17.5% 25.1% 9.4% 12.6%
No 82.0 74.6 90.1 86.7

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “Do you currently subscribe or donate to a news publication?” *Indicates that the probability of saying yes is significantly higher in the North / Downtown region than the probability of saying yes in the other regions at the p < .05 level.

ASKING PEOPLE TO “DONATE” TO NEWS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN “PAY A FEE”

We wanted to better understand what people think about paying for news. We contrasted two different appeals. A random half of the respondents were asked how likely they would be to donate ten dollars a month to a local news organization providing free online access to news about their neighborhood in Chicago. The other half of respondents were asked how likely they would be to pay a “fee of ten dollars a month” to access “news about their neighborhood.”

Those receiving the question about “donating ten dollars a month” for online news “free and for anyone to access” are more likely to say that they would give money than those asked about paying a “fee of ten dollars” (Table 15).19 There are no differences across the regions in how likely people were to pay, regardless of whether the question asked about “paying a fee” or “donating.”20


Notes: Responses are across all Chicago residents. Percentages combine “very likely” and “somewhat likely” responses. Question wording: “If a local news organization provided news about your neighborhood online for free and for anyone to access, how likely would you be to donate ten dollars a month to support their mission?”; ”If a local news organization provided news about your neighborhood on their website, how likely would you be to pay a fee of ten dollars a month to access it?” The difference between the questions is significant at the p < .05 level.

Table 15. Donating to Free and Open Online News

Donating to Free and Open Online News Paying a Fee of $10 to Access News
Very likely 11.2% 5.7%
Somewhat likely 27.5 17.4
Neither likely nor unlikely 10.7 8.1
Somewhat unlikely 22.2 20.1
Very unlikely 26.8 48.7

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “If a local news organization provided news about your neighborhood online for free and for anyone to access, how likely would you be to donate ten dollars a month to support their mission?”; “If a local news organization provided news about your neighborhood on their website, how likely would you be to pay a fee of ten dollars a month to access it?” The difference between the questions is significant at the p < .05 level.

CHICAGO RESIDENTS USE DIVERSE MEDIA SOURCES

How residents receive Chicago news also differs by region (Table 16). Residents in the West are more likely to access news through social media (77.3%) than those from the North / Downtown (67.3%). South Side residents are most likely to access television news (85.2%) than those from the North / Downtown (74.5%).21 Residents in the North / Downtown region are more likely to access news through print magazines (28.8%) than those from the South Side (17.2%), and are more likely to access news from websites or apps (69.6%) than those on the South (58.5%) or West (55.2%) Sides.22

Table 16. Percentage Getting News about Chicago from Each Source

Chicago North / Downtown West South
Television 79.6% 74.5%* 80.9% 85.2%*
Family, friends, and colleagues 79.5 79.9 78.0 79.7
Social media 69.5 67.3* 77.3* 68.0
Radio 66.0 65.9 66.9 63.7
Websites or apps 63.7 69.6* 55.2 58.5
Printed newspapers 48.3 45.1 55.1 52.0
Social or religious groups 37.2 34.9 45.5 39.1
Newsletter or e-newsletters 34.5 35.8 33.2 32.6
Print magazines 24.4 28.8* 27.2 17.2*

Notes: Question wording: “We are interested in how people get information about Chicago. Do you get information about Chicago from [ITEM]?” *Indicates region percent is statistically different from other regions at the p < .05 level. If two regions have a * they are significantly different from each other, but not from the other region.

In terms of specific news sources, there is variability (see Appendix, Table 18). The most frequently mentioned news source is the Chicago ABC News affiliate (15.2%), although CW News (12.9%) and the Chicago Tribune (12.8%) follow closely. Overall, Chicago residents use a variety of news sources.

RACE AND ETHNICITY AFFECT HOW PEOPLE PERCEIVE, USE CHICAGO NEWS MEDIA

As evident in the analyses above, region matters to how Chicago residents interact with and perceive the Chicago news media.

There are important differences across these regions in terms of demographics. The South and West Sides, for example, are more racially diverse than the North / Downtown. For this reason, we did an analysis to find whether media engagement differed based on: respondents’ gender, race/ethnicity, education, age, income, length of time living in Chicago, home ownership, partisanship, and the region where they lived. We summarize our findings below.

There are several instances in which region still matters, even after controlling for all of the factors mentioned above. This means that there is something else about these regions that relates to people’s attitudes and behaviors, above and beyond any of the demographic and political factors we measured.

  • Those in the South and West regions are still more likely to cite “crime and law enforcement” as an important issue facing their neighborhood than those in the North / Downtown region.
  • Those in the South region are still more likely to agree that there aren’t enough stories about their neighborhood in the Chicago news media and that these stories are too negative compared to those in the North / Downtown and West regions.
  • Those living on the South and West Sides are still less likely to agree that the news media do a good job of showing what’s going on in their neighborhood compared to those living in the North / Downtown region.
  • Those in the South are more likely to volunteer to report on a public meeting compared to those in the North / Downtown.
  • Those in the South region are more likely to access news through a mobile device compared to those in the North / Downtown and West regions.

The most consistent demographic differences that relate to the questions that we asked are race and ethnicity. Below, we describe how race and ethnicity affect media engagement, even after accounting for other demographics and controlling for the region where respondents lived.23

Compared to other racial categories, Black/African-American respondents …

  • Think that the Chicago news media do a worse job covering important neighborhood issues.
  • Are more likely to agree that people from their neighborhood aren’t in the news.
  • Are more likely to agree that stories about their neighborhood are too negative.
  • Are more likely to volunteer to report on a public meeting.
  • Are more likely to access news through a desktop or laptop computer.
  • Are less likely to subscribe to a news publication.
  • Are more likely to say that they would donate to a news organization that provides free and open news.

Compared to non-Hispanic residents, Hispanic respondents …

  • Are more likely to agree that there aren’t enough stories about their neighborhood in the Chicago news media.
  • Are more likely to access news through a desktop or laptop computer.
  • Are less likely to subscribe to a news publication.
  • Are more likely to say that they would pay a fee of $10 to access local news.
  • Are more likely to say that they would donate $10 to a news organization that provides free and open news.
  • Are more likely to feel that they can’t influence the government in Chicago.

Overall, it appears that differences in responses across region are not entirely explained by prominent demographic differences such as race and ethnicity, although there are instances where these factors do matter. It is important to note that differences by region may be an interaction between several factors. For example, region and race may explain differences when taken together. Future work should look to further understand these regional differences.

CONCLUSION

Chicago residents have markedly different experiences with news media depending on where they live. Residents in the North / Downtown region report more positive experiences with news media than those living on the West and South Sides. Residents in the North / Downtown region are also more likely to have communicated with a journalist and attended an event hosted by a news organization in the past than those living on the West or South Sides. Despite these differences, West and South Side residents are more interested in volunteering with news organizations than those in the North / Downtown region. That our findings are not entirely explained demographic differences suggests that location plays a distinct role in how one experiences news media. That those who report being under- and mis-represented are also the most willing to get involved reflects an opportunity for news organizations to engage these audiences in the future.

METHODOLOGY

The survey of 900 Chicago residents was fielded by Abt. Associates between July 18 and August 23, 2017. The firm used random digit dialing (RDD) to complete 312 landline interviews and both RDD and a targeted list sample of Chicago residents with out-of-area cell phones to complete 588 cell phone interviews. Surveys were conducted in both English and Spanish. We used a stratified random sample to gather sufficient sample from three different regions of Chicago (North / Downtown, unweighted n=312; South, unweighted n=287; and West, unweighted n=249).24 Respondents were categorized into region based on their zip code. Some zip codes, however, crossed regions. When this occurred, or when respondents were unsure of their zip code, region was determined by other information provided by the respondents, including cross streets and descriptions of where they lived in relation to major roadways. The regions and zip codes were categorized as follows:

North / Downtown: 60601, 60602, 60603, 60604, 60605, 60606, 60607, 60610, 60611, 60613, 60614, 60618, 60625, 60626, 60630, 60631, 60634, 60639, 60640, 60641, 60642, 60645, 60646, 60647, 60654, 60656, 60657, 60659, 60660, 60661, 60707

West: 60623, 60624, 60644, 60651

South: 60609, 60615, 60617, 60619, 60620, 60621, 60628, 60629, 60633, 60636, 60637,60643, 60649, 60652, 60653, 60655, 60827

Crossing Areas (additional questions asked to determine region): 60608, 60616, 60612, 60622, 60632, 60638

To ensure our sample reflects the population of Chicago based on various demographics, survey weights were constructed and have been applied to the results presented below. The combined sample is weighted to match demographic parameters from the American Community Survey and telephone status parameters from the National Health Interview Survey. The weighting procedure also accounts for the fact that respondents with both a landline and cell phone had a greater probability of selection. The margin of sampling error for weighted estimates based on the full sample is ± 4.4 percentage points. Estimates based on subgroups have larger margins of error. It is important to remember that random sampling error is only one possible source of error in a survey estimate. Other sources, such as question wording and reporting inaccuracy, may contribute additional error.

The response rate (AAPOR3) was 6.8% for the landline sample, 10.3% for the cell phone random digit dial sample, and 13.0% for the targeted cell sample of Chicago residents with out-of-area cell phones. For this survey, the design effect is 1.83.

Table 17 shows the demographics for the sample across all of Chicago and across the North / Downtown, West, and South regions.

Chicago North/

Downtown

West South
Gender
   Male 44.2% 50.7% 38.6% 39.4%
   Female 54.1 48.9 60.7 60.5
Race / Ethnicity
   White / Caucasian 43.9 67.1 23.5 25.0
   Black / African-American 32.6 10.1 57.1 53.5
   Asian 3.9 5.7 0.0 3.7
   American Indian / Alaskan Native 1.7 1.4 0.8 1.6
   Other 12.2 12.1 11.7 11.8
   Hispanic / Latino 23.6 21.5 32.3 20.6
Education
   Less than HS degree 14.3 13.9 24.3 10.9
   HS degree 25.0 18.0 27.2 30.8
   Some college 24.9 18.7 24.5 34.3
   College degree or more 35.8 49.4 24.0 24.0
Age
   18-29 17.5 16.8 12.8 20.4
   30-49 28.1 30.5 28.1 25.2
   50-64 27.6 25.2 29.8 29.2
   65+ 26.8 27.5 29.3 25.2
Income
   Less than $30,000 a year 40.8 30.2 55.8 48.2
   $30K to $50K a year 19.4 16.1 13.2 23.0
   $50K to $75K a year 12.7 12.8 19.8 11.5
   More than $75K a year 27.2 40.9 11.1 17.3
Years in Chicago
   Lived in Chicago less than 10 years 53.7 58.9 53.0 45.8
   Lived in Chicago 10-20 years 6.9 6.4 6.7 7.7
   Lived in Chicago for 20+ years 39.4 34.8 40.2 46.6
Residence
   Pay rent 42.2 37.6 51.8 45.5
   Pay mortgage 25.4 31.9 24.5 19.2
   Own home 13.5 14.8 8.6 15.5
   Other 15.5 13.0 13.9 17.9
Partisanship
   Republican 12.4 12.5 10.2 12.3
   Independent 17.7 17.0 15.8 19.1
   Democrat 70.0 70.5 74.0 68.1

Notes: Categories do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Hispanic/Latino identification was asked separately from the other racial categories.

We went through several iterations, and consulted with City Bureau and several Chicago residents to develop our final categorization of the three regions. One question we debated was whether the North Side and Downtown / The Loop should be combined. We looked at differences in responses for the North / Downtown region when removing those who live inside The Loop (zip codes: 60602; 60603; 60604; 60605; 60606; 60610; 60611; 60654; 60610; 60607). Few of our respondents resided in these areas (unweighted n = 33). Inspection of the results excluding residents from The Loop revealed minimal differences.

For the most important issues question (Table 1), respondents could give up to three important issues facing their neighborhood. We coded open-ended responses into one of 15 categories taken from the Policy Agendas Project,25 including a category for responses that were not related to policy and those who gave no response. Percentages were calculated based on the number of people who mentioned a category, excluding those who gave no response.

For the question asking which Chicago news sources respondents had used in the past 30 days (Table 18), respondents were provided response options of 23 different news organizations.26 Respondents could also specify a different news organization not on the list, respond that they do not receive any news, respond that they did not know, or refuse to answer the question. Respondents could mention up to 10 news sources. Responses were grouped into total number of mentions for each news source.

Table 18. Top Chicago News Sources Mentioned

News Outlet % of Total Mentions
ABC News on WLS TV 7 15.2%
Other 14.0
CW News on WGN TV 9 12.9
Chicago Tribune 12.8
Chicago Sun-Times 8.4
CBS News on WBBM TV 2 7.7
NBC News on WMAQ TV 5 6.6
Fox News on WFLD TV 32 6.2
DNAinfo Chicago 2.6
NPR, WBEZ FM 91.5 2.4

Notes: Multiple responses permitted. These percentages include “don’t know” and “refused” responses in overall totals. Question wording: “What are the names of the Chicago news sources you have used in the past 30 days?”

In Tables 19 through 22, we include responses for all of Chicago and by region for measures of respondents’ political participation and political efficacy.

Table 19. Local Political Participation by Region
(% saying that they have in the past 12 months)

Chicago North / Downtown West South
Done volunteer work 48.9% 50.1% 40.9% 52.1%
Worked on a community project 27.5 28.1 32.0 27.4
Gone to a community or neighborhood meeting 35.2 34.3 42.5 37.1
Worked on behalf of a social group or cause 30.2 30.5 28.5 31.7
Written to a local news editor or called in to a radio station 12.0 14.1 8.6 11.5
Left a comment on a local news website or social media page 28.7 30.4 27.6 28.6
Signed a petition for a local candidate or issue 38.5 37.4 40.2 42.3
Voted in a local election 62.6 60.3 64.2 66.4
Worked for a local political campaign 9.6 10.0 5.7* 12.2*
Contacted a local public official 31.6 38.1 27.3 29.6
Donated money to a local cause 48.1 57.3* 39.8 40.1
Attended a local protest 20.7 23.9 17.7 19.6

Notes: These percentages include “don’t know” and “refused” responses in overall totals. Question wording: “In the past 12 months have you…” *Indicates region percent is statistically different from other regions at the p < .05 level.

Table 20. Political Efficacy by Region

People like me can influence the government in Chicago

Chicago North / Downtown* West* South
Strongly agree 24.0% 23.2% 28.6% 25.1%
Somewhat agree 29.6 31.9 22.8 27.0
Neither agree nor disagree 8.2 6.6 11.8 8.6
Somewhat disagree 15.2 21.6 16.5 7.4
Strongly disagree 22.4 16.0 19.1 31.9

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “I’m going to read you a few statements about Chicago. For each one, please tell me whether you agree or disagree…People like me can influence government in Chicago.” Differences in response across the North / Downtown and West regions are significant at the p < .05 level.

Table 21. Political Efficacy by Region

I consider myself well-qualified to participate in Chicago politics

Chicago North / Downtown West South
Strongly agree 22.4% 24.4% 16.5% 22.7%
Somewhat agree 25.6 28.5 31.7 19.6
Neither agree nor disagree 9.8 9.6 7.8 10.9
Somewhat disagree 17.7 15.0 20.9 20.5
Strongly disagree 23.4 22.5 22.0 26.3

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “I’m going to read you a few statements about Chicago. For each one, please tell me whether you agree or disagree… I consider myself well-qualified to participate in Chicago politics.” Differences in response across regions are not significant at the p < .05 level.

Table 22. Political Efficacy by Region

I have a good understanding of the important issues facing Chicago

Chicago North / Downtown West South
Strongly agree 51.7% 51.1% 54.3% 53.8%
Somewhat agree 34.7 37.7 34.1 30.5
Neither agree nor disagree 3.9 2.7 1.5 4.4
Somewhat disagree 6.2 6.2 6.6 7.4
Strongly disagree 3.4 2.3 2.8 4.0

Notes: Columns do not total to 100% due to rounding and respondents who indicated that they did not know the answer or refused to answer the question. Question wording: “I’m going to read you a few statements about Chicago. For each one, please tell me whether you agree or disagree… I have a good understanding of the important issues facing Chicago.” Differences in response across regions are not significant at the p < .05 level.

  1. Weighted logistic regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region in naming responses coded as law and crime issues as the most important problem.
  2. Weighted logistic regression analysis was used to test significant differences across regions in naming responses coded as housing issues as the most important problem.
  3. Weighted logistic regression analysis was used to test significant differences across regions in naming responses coded as education issues as the most important problem.
  4. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .02.
  5. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .05.
  6. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .02.
  7.  Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .08.
  8.  Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .13.
  9.  Weighted regression showed no differences by region.  R² for both models < .001.
  10.  Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .02.
  11. Weighted logistic regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region.
  12. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model < .001.
  13. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .01.
  14. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .04.
  15. Weighted logistic regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region.
  16. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .03.
  17. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .01.
  18. Weighted logistic regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region.
  19.  Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences based on the “donating” or “fee” question wording. R² for model = .05.
  20. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region for both versions of the question. R² for “donating” model = .02. R² for “fee” model < .001.
  21.  Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .01.
  22. Weighted regression analysis was used to test significant differences across region. R² for model = .02.
  23. We are happy to provide the full dataset and tables upon request.
  24. For the remaining 52 respondents, we were unable to categorize them by region because they preferred not to share their zip code, we were unable to determine the region based on the cross-streets mentioned, or they named a zip code not included in the targets below. We include these respondents in our overall Chicago estimates.
  25.  Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (2010). Agendas and instability in American politics. University of Chicago Press.
  26. News organizations listed were: ABC News on WLS TV 7, CW News on WGN TV 9, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, CBS News on WBBM TV 2, NBC News on WMAQ TV 5, Fox News on, WFLD TV 32, DNAinfo Chicago, NPR, WBEZ FM 91.5, PBS, WTTW TV 11, RedEye Chicago, Chicago Reader, Crain’s Chicago Business, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Defender, City Bureau, The Daily Herald, Windy City Times, Chicagoist, South Side Weekly, The Chicago Reporter, Time-Out Chicago Magazine

Researchers

  • Emily Van Duyn

    Emily Van Duyn
    Graduate Research Assistant
    emilyvanduyn@utexas.edu

    Emily Van Duyn (M.Ed., Southern Methodist University) is a doctoral student in communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Some of her research interests include the interaction of online news with deliberative democracy and the influence of media framing on constructions of gender and race. Prior to her doctoral work, she received a master’s in Education specializing in multicultural literacy.

  • Jay Jennings

    Jay Jennings
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    jay.jennings@austin.utexas.edu

    Dr. Jennings studies the capacity of citizens to effectively participate in politics and his work draws on the fields of political psychology, public opinion, and political communication. His dissertation and recently published article investigates religion’s role in shaping democratic citizens. He joins us from Philadelphia, PA where he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Temple University. While at Temple he was the project manager for the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project and an affiliated researcher at the Behavioral Foundations Lab. You can read more about Dr. Jennings’ research and background by visiting his website.

  • Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud

    Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud
    Director
    tstroud@austin.utexas.edu

    Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is the founding and current Director of the Center for Media Engagement and Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book, Niche News: The Politics of News Choice, received the Outstanding Book Award from the International Communication Association, and inspired the early development of the Center. Her research examines the use and effects of political news content.