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2012 Mobile Survey Results

By Roger Fidler on June 4, 2012 2 Comments Research

The staff of the RJI Insight and Survey Center interviewed more than 1,000 individuals randomly selected from phone number lists between January 17 and March 25, 2012 for RJI's 2012 Mobile Media News Consumption Survey. More than half of the participants used a cell phone. No incentives were offered to participate in the survey.

The questionnaire was designed to gather information from both users and non-users of mobile media devices; however more than half of the questions were designed specifically for device owners. Questions were suggested and reviewed by members of RJI’s Digital Publishing Alliance. All participants were also asked to volunteer standard demographic information.

The following questions are among those that are addressed and expanded upon in the survey findings:

The intended purpose of this RJI national phone survey was to gain insights into who uses mobile media devices and what they use them for, particularly as their uses relate to consuming news. We defined mobile media devices as electronic display devices that:

  1. can wirelessly connect to the Internet without attaching to a personal computer;
  2. are designed primarily for consuming and interacting with mixed-media content;
  3. are lightweight and relatively easy to carry and hold.


For the purposes of this survey, we grouped mobile media devices into five general categories:

  • Smartphones — Internet-enabled mobile phones that incorporate features associated with portable digital assistants (e.g. Apple iPhone, Motorola Droid, and Blackberry)
  • Large Media Tablets — Tablets with 9.7-inch or larger full-color displays (e.g. Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10, Toshiba Thrive)
  • Small Media Tablets — Tablets with 7-inch full-color displays (e.g. Amazon Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7)
  • Wireless E-Readers — Single purpose devices intended for reading that mostly employ gray-scale electronic paper displays (e.g. Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader)
  • Other Small Wireless Devices — Netbooks, tablet PCs, and Internet-enabled portable digital assistants and game consoles (e.g. Apple iPod Touch, Sony PSP)

The analysis of data gathered from this survey is being conducted by Roger Fidler, RJI’s program director for digital publishing, and Kenneth Fleming (aka Zhi G. Sun), RJI’s associate director of research and director of the RJI Insight and Survey Center, with assistance from graduate students in the Missouri School of Journalism.

Preliminary results of this survey were presented by Fidler at the ASNE convention in Washington DC on April 2 and during the RJI Innovation Week program in Columbia, MO on April 25.

Results of all previous RJI tablet surveys can be found on the RJI website at: For more information, contact Roger Fidler at


Mode of survey

Is there any reason in particular as to why you decided to use phone lists vs. doing an online survey? I am in a Master's program at UNC's J-School and we are talking about surveys this week. Thanks!

Mode of survey

Participants in online surveys typically are self-selected users of digital media. Consequently, they do not represent a true cross section of a population. Participants in phone surveys typically are randomly selected from phone number lists prepared specifically for use by researchers that include statistically proportioned mixes of mobile and landline numbers. This assures that the results are more likely to represent a cross section of a population. Researchers often use online and phone surveys interchangeably to target specific groups of people who are known to have an interest in the topics being surveyed, for example people who have recently purchase a product online or have contributed to a political candidate or non-profit organization. The results, by definition, apply to a specific subset of the population and cannot be reliably applied to the population as a whole. I hope this will be of some help.

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