Study: Web-based news surpasses newspapers, radio in popularity

March 1st, 2010 by Chris Hogg Leave a reply »
According to a new study released today, 92 percent of Americans now use multiple platforms to consume news each day and the Internet has become a vital part in the daily lives of news consumers.

The survey, conducted jointly by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism, revealed the Internet is now the third-most popular news platform. Both local and national television news casts are still the primary source of news in the U.S.

With a quickly evolving landscape and new technologies, the Web has surpassed local and national newspapers as well as radio in popularity as a news platform.

A total of 59 percent of news consumers in the U.S. get news from both online and offline sources each day. More specifically, 46 percent of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms and a mere 7 percent get their news from a single media platform on a typical day.

“In today’s new multi-platform media environment, news is becoming portable, personalized, and participatory,” the report indicates. “To a great extent, people’s experience of news, especially on the Internet, is becoming a shared social experience as people swap links in emails, post news stories on their social networking site feeds, highlight news stories in their Tweets, and haggle over the meaning of events in discussion threads. For instance, more than 8 in 10 online news consumers get or share links in emails.”

The study shows 33 percent of cellphone users now access news on the mobiles; 28 percent have customized their Internet homepage to include news from multiple sources and on multiple topics; and 37 percent of Internet users have contributed to creating news, commenting on news or disseminating news via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. According to Pew, they have done at least one of the following: commenting on a news story (25 percent); posting a link on a social networking site (17 percent); tagging content (11 percent), creating their own original news material or opinion piece (9 percent), or Tweeting about news (3 percent).

Online news junkies are using social networks to filter, discover and comment about various news events. Traditional email is also still used to share stories and comments. “Among those who get news online, 75 percent get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52 percent share links to news with others via those means,” the report indicates.

Getting news has become a social experience, with 72 percent of news consumers indicating they enjoy talking with others about what’s happening around the world. Approximately half of Americans say they rely on people around them to tell them news they need to know.

The Internet has also changed the branding game, as many news consumers have a great deal of choice about who they read. According to the survey, however, the average news consumer visits only a handful of news sites and does not have a favourite.

With the growth of online news sources comes growing frustration or the feeling of being overwhelmed. According to Pew, 55 percent of respondents agree it’s easier to keep up with the news today than it was five years ago, but 70 percent say the amount of information is overwhelming.

In terms of overall consumption, Pew reports:
  • 56 percent of Americans say they follow the news “all or most of the time.”
  • 25 percent follow the news at least “some of the time”
  • And 99 percent of American adults say they get news from at least one of these media platforms in a typical day: a local or national print newspaper, a local or national television news broadcast, radio, or the Internet. 
So what are people searching for online? According to Pew, the most popular online news subjects are:
  • The weather (followed by 81 percent of Internet news users)
  • National events (73 percent)
  • Health and medicine (66 percent)
  • Business and the economy (64 percent)
  • International events (62 percent)
  • Science and technology (60 percent).
Respondents also said they would like to see more coverage of scientific news and discoveries (44 percent); religion and spirituality (41 percent); health and medicine (39 percent); state government (39 percent) and neighbourhood or local communities (38 percent).

The study was completed between Dec. 28, 2009 and Jan. 19, 2010. The results are based on telephone interviews with 2,259 adults (18 and older), conducted by Princeton Survey Research International. The full study can be found online here.
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