Results from 2015 Midwest Energy News reader survey

Thanks to everyone who took our reader survey this year. We had slightly fewer participants this year (289 vs. 302 last year), but still a large enough group to give us a good idea of how we’re doing.

The results are largely unchanged from last year but a few movements are evident. Since this is a self-selecting group and not a scientific poll, it’s really the year-to-year changes that provide the most insight.

Also this year we added some questions about climate change and political leanings, which yielded some interesting – though not entirely surprising – results (percentages in some instances may not add up to 100 due to rounding). The full results can be viewed here. You can also compare the results to 2014 and 2013 if you’re so inclined.

Demographics

Responses (from 28 states in all) were almost entirely from the Midwest, with the largest share coming from Illinois and Minnesota. They were, however, more evenly distributed, with participation rates increasing significantly in Ohio and Michigan (this also corresponds with increased website traffic in those states).

Minnesota: 21%
Illinois: 18%
Michigan: 13%
Wisconsin: 12%
Ohio: 10%
Iowa: 5%
Missouri: 3%
DC/Virginia: 3%
Nebraska, Indiana, South Dakota: 2% each

The remaining states represented 1% or less of responses.

Occupations/fields were roughly the same as last year, with the most significant uptick from the utility sector (12% vs. 8%):

Policy/advocacy/NGO: 27%
Other: 21% (includes many responses that could fit in other categories)
Other business related to the energy industry: 19%
Utility, co-op or other energy provider: 12%
Government or regulatory
: 11%
Academia: 6%
Media/communications: 5%

Overall impressions

Since the email digest is probably our best vehicle for promoting a survey (we also used a home page article, Twitter and Facebook), it should come as no surprise that respondents were regular readers:

62% read the email digest daily
28% read it more than once per week
3% read it a few times per month
3% read it rarely
4% never read it

This group is far less likely to visit the main website:

7% daily
19% more than once per week
29% a few times each month
37% rarely
9% never

Overall, impressions of our work are positive:

89% strongly agree or agree that Midwest Energy News is useful in their professional lives
88% strongly agree or agree that we are accurate
93% strongly agree or agree that we are timely
73% strongly agree or agree that we are fair and unbiased

85% strongly agree or agree that the daily email digest is useful in their professional lives
79% strongly agree or agree that it is comprehensive
71% strongly agree or agree that it is their primary source of regional energy news
83% strongly agree or agree that it is engaging to read

Views on climate change and politics

Respondents to our survey tend to be very concerned about climate change, and tend to self-identify as “liberal” or “progressive.”

How concerned are you about climate change?
73% very concerned
17% somewhat concerned
5% not very concerned
2% not at all concerned
2% don’t believe climate change is occurring

How should we respond to climate change?
49% combination of prevention and adaptation, with focus on prevention
31% act quickly to prevent by transitioning to clean energy
10% combination of prevention and adaptation, with focus on adaptation
5% adaptation
2% we should do nothing
3% don’t believe climate change is occurring

Politically, respondents self-identified as:

46% Liberal
32% Moderate
13% Other (“Progressive” was popular response, followed by “Independent” and “Libertarian”)
9% Conservative

Climate denial and the question of bias

The climate change questions gave us a chance to dig a little more deeply

The lone respondant who “strongly disagreed” that we are fair and unbiased was also one of the few who stated a belief that climate change is not occurring at all, posting a comment that our “climate change bias is very obvious, even obnoxious.”

Digging deeper into the data, respondents who disagree that we are fair and unbiased were also far more likely to be lukewarm on the issue of climate change compared to those who agreed. This was not universal, in some cases even people who don’t believe climate change is occurring gave us high marks for fairness, and vice versa.

For the record, we do not attempt to “balance” our coverage by falsely equating political positions with scientific ones. On a personal note, I hope the deniers are right, and I will be among the first to dance in the streets if they are. But for the time being the weight of evidence is against them.

There were other comments too, of course, including a lot of folks simply telling us to keep up the good work. I’ll be reviewing all of your feedback and taking action when appropriate.

Once again, thank you to everyone for taking the time to respond. If you missed out on the survey or wish to offer additional feedback, please feel free to contact me at paulman@fresh-energy.org.

Thanks for reading!

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