The intended purpose of the annual RJI Mobile Media News Consumption Surveys is to gain insights into who uses mobile media and how their uses for news may change over time.

The latest survey was conducted for RJI in June 2015 by Ipsos, one of the world’s largest market research companies. It included 1,001 U.S. adults. The questionnaire was drafted by Samuel Tham, a graduate student in the Missouri School of Journalism, under the guidance of Esther Thorson, RJI’s director of research.

Unlike the three previous annual RJI Mobile Media News Consumption Surveys, which included users as well as non-users of smartphones and tablets, this survey was confined to those who had standard-size smartphones and phablets — smartphones with screens that measure diagonally 5.1 – 6.99 inches.

Ipsos maintains a database that collects demographic information from commercial list brokers. Individuals in this database are offered incentives to participate in various surveys. For the 2015 survey, Ipsos sought to match respondents as close to the U.S. population as possible.

In 2014, the staff of RJI’s Insight & Survey Center randomly interviewed nearly 1,200 adults 18 years of age or older in all 50 states between Jan. 1 and March 31, using both landline and cellphone frames. More than 1,000 adults were interviewed in the first quarters of 2013 and 2012. No incentives were offered to participate in these surveys.

Respondents who said they used a mobile media device to access digital content from news websites or news apps during the week prior to their participation in the surveys were designated as mobile news consumers.

We have defined mobile media as portable electronic display devices that:

  • Can wirelessly connect to the Internet without attaching to another computer;
  • Are designed primarily for consuming and interacting with mixed-media content;
  • And are lightweight and relatively easy to carry and hold.

For these surveys, we grouped mobile media into five general categories:

Smartphones — Internet-enabled mobile phones that incorporate features associated with portable digital assistants. In 2015 we added a subcategory for large-screen smartphones (phablets).

Large Media Tablets — Internet-enabled tablets with mobile operating systems and 8-inch or larger full-color, multi-touch displays. The Apple iPad, released to consumers in April 2010, was the first large media tablet.

Mini Media Tablets — Internet-enabled tablets with mobile operating systems and full-color, multi-touch displays smaller than 8 inches measured diagonally. The Amazon Kindle Fire, released to consumers in November 2011, was one of the first mini media tablets sold in the U.S.

Wireless E-Readers — Single purpose devices intended for reading that mostly employ gray-scale electronic paper displays.

Other Mobile Computers — Included netbooks, tablet PCs, ultra-light notebooks and Internet-enabled handheld devices.

The analyses of data gathered from these surveys are conducted by Roger Fidler, RJI’s program director for digital publishing, with assistance from graduate students in the Missouri School of Journalism. The phone interviewers for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 surveys were trained and managed by Sarah Jean Samson, RJI-ISC coordinator for program and project support.

The research reports are made available on the RJI website at: For more information, contact Roger Fidler at

Roger Fidler  
Program Director for Digital Publishing (Retired)

Stories about RJI Mobile Media Research Project

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