Stats All, Folks!

When I was publisher of a local weekly newspaper, much like this one, I had a stock response for the occasional reader who would accuse our reporters or our news coverage of bias: “You’re right,” I would say. “There is bias in the media, because every single person brings his or her own bias to every story.” It’s human nature that different people react differently to the same thing, whether it’s a movie, a restaurant or a news story.

Now there are statistics that say pretty much the same thing about how we react to news coverage. Of course, whether you believe even those statistics depends on your personal politics, and on how credible you find surveys.

Here’s what I mean: Some nine in 10 Democrats say criticism from the news media helps keep our political leaders in line. Yet, that same sentiment is held by four in 10 Republicans. The yawning gap between the two points of view is 47 percentage points. That’s according to an online survey of more than 4,000 U.S. adults conducted this past March by Pew Research Center.

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Even more stark is that, when the same question was posed a year earlier (January-February 2016), both Republicans and Democrats supported in nearly identical numbers the media’s watchdog role over government. At that time, in fact, slightly more Republicans (77 percent) expressed support than did Democrats (74 percent). What a difference a year—and an election—makes.

Overall, reports Pew, 70 percent of U.S. adults support news media’s watchdog role and 40 percent say they follow national news “very closely.”

But enough about politics. Let’s look at some other numbers gathered by Pew, whose business model is codified in its tagline, “Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Our World.”

We just observed the annual day on which we salute our moms (who deserve that outward show of gratitude every day, not just 1/365th of the year). Let’s take a closer look at who they are.

There are 85 million moms in the U.S., estimates the Census Bureau. Pew tells us that “women are having children at a later age” than in past years. In 1970, the average age of a first-time mother was 21.4 years. In 2012, the average age was 25.8 years.

There are a great many more women today than in the past who bear children out of wedlock: four out of 10 births (40 percent) are to unmarried moms. That compares with only 5 percent of births to unmarried women in 1960.

It should surprise almost no one that substantially more moms with younger children have jobs today than used to be the norm. In 2012, more than 70 percent of mothers with children under 18 were in the labor force. Compare that with 1975, when less than half of women with kids that age were working moms.

Moving along to another familial statistic, take a guess what percentage of young adults (25-35 years old) live in their parents’ home currently? If you guessed 15 percent, get yourself to Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods this weekend because you’re bound to come back a winner.

That 15 percent of 25-35 year-old live-at-homers is 50 percent higher than the number in that same age cohort who lived at home in 2000 (10 percent), and nearly twice as many as the number of young adults who lived at home in 1964 (8 percent).

Hey, who said you can’t go home again? As every English major knows, the answer is Thomas Wolfe.

Bruce Apar is chief content officer of Pinpoint Marketing & Design, a Google Partner Agency. Its Adventix division helps performing arts venues increase ticket sales. Reach him at or 914-275-6887.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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