Monday, 1 October 2012

How people get their news - the young switching from television to on-line


As someone who no longer buys a printed version of a newspaper I was not at all surprised to find in the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press that in the US the transformation of the nation’s news landscape has already taken a heavy toll on print news sources, particularly print newspapers. What did surprise me was the finding that  there are now signs that television news – which so far has held onto its audience through the rise of the internet – also is increasingly vulnerable, as it may be losing its hold on the next generation of news consumers.

Online and digital news consumption, meanwhile, continues to increase, with many more people now getting news on cell phones, tablets or other mobile platforms. And perhaps the most dramatic change in the news environment has been the rise of social networking sites. The percentage of Americans saying they saw news or news headlines on a social networking site yesterday has doubled – from 9% to 19% – since 2010. Among adults younger than age 30, as many saw news on a social networking site the previous day (33%) as saw any television news (34%), with just 13% having read a newspaper either in print or digital form.
These are among the principal findings of the Pew Research Center’s biennial news consumption survey, which has tracked patterns in news use for nearly two decades. The latest survey was conducted May 9-June 3, 2012, among 3,003 adults.
The proportion of Americans who read news on a printed page – in newspapers and magazines – continues to decline, even as online readership has offset some of these losses. Just 23% say they read a print newspaper yesterday, down only slightly since 2010 (26%), but off by about half since 2000 (47%).The decline of print on paper spans beyond just newspapers. The proportion reading a magazine in print yesterday has declined over the same period (26% in 2000, 18% today). And as email, text messaging and social networking become dominant forms of communication, the percentage saying they wrote or received a personal letter the previous day also has fallen, from 20% in 2006 to 12% currently. There has been no decrease in recent years in the percentage reading a book on a typical day, but a growing share is now reading through an electronic or audio device.
The decline of print on paper spans beyond just newspapers. The proportion reading a magazine in print yesterday has declined over the same period (26% in 2000, 18% today). And as email, text messaging and social networking become dominant forms of communication, the percentage saying they wrote or received a personal letter the previous day also has fallen, from 20% in 2006 to 12% currently. There has been no decrease in recent years in the percentage reading a book on a typical day, but a growing share is now reading through an electronic or audio device.
While print sources have suffered readership losses in recent years, television news viewership has remained more stable. Currently, 55% say they watched the news or a news program on television yesterday, little changed from recent years. But there are signs this may also change. Only about a third (34%) of those younger than 30 say they watched TV news yesterday; in 2006, nearly half of young people (49%) said they watched TV news the prior day. Among older age groups, the percentages saying they watched TV yesterday has not changed significantly over this period.

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