Monday, October 12, 2009

More People Rely On The Internet Than Newspapers For News

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press report for 2010: In 2010, for the first time, the internet surpassed television as the main source of national and international news for people younger than 30. (chart right)

Since 2007, the number of 18 to 29 year old adults citing the internet as their main source has nearly doubled, from 34% to 65%.

Over this period, the number of young people citing television as their main news source has dropped from 68% to 52%.

The internet is slowly closing in on television as Americans’ main source of national and international news.

Television remains the most widely used source for national and international news – 66% of Americans say it is their main source of news – but that is down from 74% three years ago and 82% as recently as 2002.

The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 1-5, 2010 among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that more people continue to cite the internet than newspapers as their main source of news.

This reflects both the growth of the internet, and the gradual decline in newspaper readership (from 34% in 2007 to 31% now).

Currently, 41% of all adults say they get most of their news about national and international news from the internet, which is little changed over the past two years but up 17 points since 2007.

The proportion citing radio as their main source of national and international news has remained relatively stable in recent years; currently, 16% say it is their main source.

Among those 30 to 49, the internet is on track to equal, or perhaps surpass, television as the main source of national and international news within the next few years. Currently, 48% say the internet is their main source – up 16 points from 2007 – and 63% cite television – down eight points.

The decline in the share of Americans who cite television as their main source of national and international news crosses all age groups. Over the past three years, the number saying TV is their main source has fallen 16 points among 18-29 year-olds, eight points among those 30 to 49, and six points among those age 50 and older.

Reflecting the slow decline in the proportion of people getting most of their national and international news from television, the numbers specifically citing cable news outlets or broadcast networks as their main news source has fallen. When asked where on television they get most of their news, 36% name a cable network such as CNN, the Fox News Channel or MSNBC; 22% name ABC News, CBS News or NBC News; and 16% say they get most of their national and international news from local news programming.

Newspapers can't deliver enough news fast enough to keep readers interested, so their circulation numbers are in rapid decline. U.S. Newspaper circulation fell 10.6% from Sept'08 to Sept'09:
  • Dallas Morning News (DMN) had the second largest weekday circulation of any U.S. newspaper with a decline of 22%.
  • DMN Sunday circulation declined 18% vs the U.S. average Sunday circulation decline of 7.5%.
  • DMN advertising revenue dropped 18% in the period.
  • These declines are a continuation of the long term contraction of industry and DMN circulation.
  • DMN revenue increased last year due to subscription fee increase from $250/year to $360/yr in late 2009.
The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project April 2009 research report titled "The Internet's Role in Campaign 2008," (C-SPAN Video) revealed that some 74% of internet users--representing 55% of the entire adult population--went online in 2008 to get involved in the political process or to get news and information about the election. (graphs)
This marks the first time that a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey has found that more than half of the voting-age population used the internet to get involved in the political process during an election year.
Several online activities rose to prominence in 2008. In particular, Americans were eager to share their views on the race with others and to take part in the online debate on social media sites such as blogs and social networking sites. Among the key findings of our survey:
  • Nearly one in five (18%) internet users posted their thoughts, comments or questions about the campaign on an online forum such as a blog or social networking site.
  • Fully 45% of internet users went online to watch a video related to the campaign.
  • One in three internet users forwarded political content to others. Indeed, the sharing of political content (whether writing and commentary or audio and video clips) increased notably over the course of the 2008 election cycle. While young adults led the way in many political activities, seniors were highly engaged in forwarding political content to their friends and family members.
  • Young voters continued to engage heavily in the political debate on social networking sites. Fully 83% of those age 18-24 have a social networking profile, and two-thirds of young profile owners took part in some form of political activity on these sites in 2008.
The relative importance of the internet also continued to grow within the overall political media ecosystem.
Among the entire population (internet users and non-users alike) the internet is now equal to newspapers and roughly twice as important as radio as a source of election news and information. Among internet users and young adults, these differences are even more magnified.
Additionally, online political news consumers are delving deeply into the long tail of online political content:
  • Nearly half of online political news consumers visited five or more distinct types of online news sites this election cycle.
The data shows that voters are increasingly moving away from established media news sites, and towards sites that match their own political viewpoints--and this is especially true of those who delve deepest into the world of online political content.

Due to demographic differences between the two parties, McCain voters were actually more likely than Obama voters to go online in the first place. However, online Obama supporters were generally more engaged in the online political process than online McCain supporters. Among internet users, Obama voters were more likely to share online political content with others, sign up for updates about the election, donate money to a candidate online, set up political news alerts and sign up online for volunteer activities related to the campaign. Online Obama voters were also out in front when it came to posting their own original political content online--26% of wired Obama voters did this, compared with 15% of online McCain supporters.

Correlated with increasing preference for Internet news sources and online political action is the increasing adoption of broadband internet connection in U.S. homes. Overall broadband penetration across all US homes grew to 63% in March 2009, according to a survey report by Pew Internet (see Figure 1). Dial-up users decreased from 10% to 7% during the same time period. Broadband growth in US homes grew mainly from low-usage groups, including seniors and low-income Americans. Overall, people living in homes with annual household incomes below $30,000 experienced a 34% growth in home broadband adoption from 2008 to 2009.

Figure 1: US Internet Connection Trends
- June 2000 to March 2009 -

In May 2009, broadband penetration among the active Internet users in US homes grew to 94.65%, up 1.21 percentage points from 93.44% in April 2009 (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Broadband Adoption Growth Trend - Home Users (US)

Source: Website Optimization and The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project

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