Media Research Study: What Does Media Mean to You?

By Harvey R. Levenson

“What Does Media Mean to You?” is an anonymous survey of people of all ages, walks of life, occupations and interests regarding a broad sweep of media choices. We often hear that “print is dead” or that the Internet is the future. This study looks at what everyday people think about their media options, which have grown tremendously over the past decade. Typically, the graphic communication industry targets various distinct vertical markets: automotive, education, financial, healthcare, insurance, real estate, sports, travel and leisure, utilities and so on. However, this study suggests that the industry might more effectively focus on influential media verticals, where people are informed, educated and entertained. The study explored 12 print and non-print media: books, catalogs, CD or DVD, electronic tablets, Internet/www, magazines, movies, newspapers, printed advertisements, radio, smart phone and television. Participants came from various walks of life: administration/management, clerical, education professional, food services, healthcare, information technology/electronics, media, non-profit, professional, retail, retired, student, trades, transportation and other. They were asked the following questions: • Which of the following is the best for helping you to remember information? • Which of the following is the best for providing you with detail? • Which of the following is the best for entertaining you? • Which of the following is the best for educating you? • Which of the following is the best for influencing your decisions? • Which of the following is the best for informing you? For this survey, 453 responses were received from an estimated population of 3,000. The approximate error rate is between +/- 3% to +/-5%. According to the study, books and the Internet/WWW ranked highest overall as the media of choice among respondents. Books ranked between first and third four times over the six questions, and the Internet/WWW ranked five times. Books were ranked first twice (for remembering information and for educating), and the Internet/WWW was ranked three times (for providing detail, influencing decisions and for informing). Newspapers appeared five times over the first three choices, twice as second choice (for influencing decisions and informing) and three times as a third choice (for remembering information, providing detail and for educating). Television was selected three times, once as first choice (for entertaining) and twice as third choice (for influencing decisions and for informing). Movies appeared once over the top three choices but as a second choice (for entertaining). The least preferred media, falling in the 11th and 12th spots overall, were catalogs, CD or DVD, movies and printed advertisements. Catalogs were ranked 11th three times (for remembering information, entertaining, and educating). CDs or DVDs were ranked 11th once (for informing), and movies were ranked 11th twice (for providing detail and for influencing decisions). CDs and DVDs were ranked 12th three times (for remembering information, providing detail and influencing decisions). Movies were ranked 12th once (for informing), and printed advertisements were ranked 12th twice (for entertaining and educating). The results of the study provide clues about which communication media content creators and service providers (including commercial printers, publishers and related companies) should utilize to most effectively connect with people to achieve different objectives. The results might also help media buyers better pinpoint which media the public perceives to be most effective at fulfilling its various needs. This study will be of interest to a variety of groups competing for the public’s attention, as it paints a picture of the present and likely future use of media. It will be relevant to corporate strategic planning and for curriculum development in education. The study also serves as a guide to media effectiveness for students, parents and other consumers of media. About the Author Harvey R. Levenson, Ph. D., is Professor Emeritus and Director of the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The 218-page report can be purchased from GrCI in digital format or hard copy by contacting Institute Manager Lyndee Sing at 805-756-2645, or, or you can order it directly here: