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Pew: Internet surpasses newspapers, radio for news

Americans are turning to the Internet for their news more than newspapers and the radio, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Internet & Life Project.

They are getting their news from multiple sources such as Internet news and social networking sites and local and national television. And they are getting news in many different ways, including mobile phones, according to the survey.

The Pew's extensive report "Understanding the Participatory News Consumer" dives deep into the media habits of people, who have significantly altered the way they get and share information because of the Internet.

The findings come ahead of a roundtable discussion March 9-10 hosted by the Federal Trade Commission on the future of journalism. It's the agency's second event exploring the future of journalism as traditional news outlets struggle to survive with business models disrupted by the free flow of information on the Internet.

Sixty percent of respondents to Pew's survey said they get news through the Web. The most popular news sources are national and local television news followed by the Web, newspapers and radio. But that's continuing to change, according to the report.

"The days of loyalty to a particular news organization on a particular piece of technology in a particular form are gone," according to Pew. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they don't have a single favorite site for news. About half of respondents get news from four to six platforms in a single day.

"The process Americans use to get news is based on foraging and opportunism. They seem to access news when the spirit moves them or they have a chance to check up on headlines," Pew wrote.

As such, the report described the consumption of news as "portable, personalized and participatory."

  • 33 percent get news from mobile phones.
  • 28 percent have a customized home page with news feeds.
  • 37 percent have posted, linked, shared or commented on news stories on Facebook and other social networking sites.

The finding highlights the remarkable rise of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in the consumption and spread of information. Facebook surpassed Google in traffic last January, according to Compete, a firm that analyzes traffic patterns. With 500 million users (the populations of the U.S., Japan and Mexico combined), it's also pushing out more traffic to portals and news links than any other source on the Web.

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 1, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Facebook , Google , Media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Sen. Kohl Probes NBC Universal on Olympics Web restrictions
Next: Gloves off, Microsoft pushes antitrust review of Google


This should come as a surprise to no one. As leaders of the MSM, the print media has long ago lost any credibility as an objective news source. People who want "news" and not a political agenda have to surf to find individual stories on their own. So that's what they do. I read the Post simply to find out what the latest left wing spin is for the day.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | March 1, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Please print this on the front page of the print version of the Post so my anti-tech father-in-law will see that computers are not futuristic toys.

Posted by: HookedOnThePost | March 1, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

This is a skewed statistic:

- 33 percent get news from mobile phones.
- 28 percent have a customized home page with news feeds.
- 37 percent have posted, linked, shared or commented on news stories on Facebook and other social networking sites.

The first two seem to describe daily habits, the third could describe a one-time action.

They shouldn't be in the same bullet list.

Posted by: gkrishna1 | March 1, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The headline -- and perhaps the research itself -- misses the point. The focus was on where -- from what media -- people get their news. It begs the much more important question of where the news comes from. The fact is the preponderance of news is gathered and reported by newspapers. Every other medium appropriates newspaper content -- usually without attribution -- and uses (or spins) it for a profit (while the newspapers, which are doing all the heavy lifting, are forced to close bureaus around the U.S. and the world and slash staff). Rush, Glenn, Sean, Chris, Keith, and Rachel would have nothing to talk about without newspapers. Someone better find an economic model to support real reporting -- and the citizenry better belly up to supporting it -- or we're going to be left watching, listening, and tweeting drivel. The canary in the mine of democracy is coughing.

Posted by: dkieffer | March 1, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

This news is ancient history. Ever since Drudge got a hold of Bill and Monica we've all been getting our news online. Everybody all over the freakin' world gets their news online.

Either you adapt or you perish.

Posted by: alance | March 1, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

silencedogoodreturns says:

"I read the Post simply to find out what the latest left wing spin is for the day."

Yeah right! Truth is all right wingers simply can't replace the Post, NYT, LAT, etc. as reliable source of news.

I am unimpressed by those stats that facebook traffic is greater than Google. So what if pimple-faced teens who want to talk about their dogs or goldfish flood Facebook with uselss traffic.

In order to report news you will always need solid, large news media that everybody loves to hate.

Posted by: cipitio | March 1, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The Pew Study confirms that Americans have become news grazers, turning to different media and platforms – including print and online newspapers -- based on needs and interests. As earlier research has shown, while the Internet has become a major source for national and international news, newspapers continue to be a key source for local news. Recent research by comScore for the Newspaper Association of America (available at indicated that 57 percent of respondents identified newspaper Web sites as their top source for local information, ahead of all other media. Newspaper sites ranked first as a source for local information, local sports, local entertainment and local classifieds.

And in response to a previous comment about credibility, local newspaper Web sites ranked first in the comScore study among all sources for trustworthiness, credibility and being the most informative place to get a range of local content.

In January, newspaper Web sites hit an all-time high of 75 million unique visitors, an 80% increase since 2004 -- another indication that media consumers still value the local newspaper.

And I agree wholeheartedly with dkieffer’s response – where in many cases the consumer’s destination site may not be owned by newspapers, you can bet that much of the content originated at a newspaper organization.

Posted by: randybennett | March 1, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

The Federal Trade kidding? They're only about a decade behind the times. Our schedules don't jibe with newspaper deliveries. We cancelled one subscription in the late 1980s--unable to read it most days--and cancelled another as soon as usable news sites appeared in the late 1990s.

When the Post site makes its inevitable transition to paid subscription, it should bear in mind that Internet news readers do not want and will not buy traditional newspaper formats. The NY Times and the Boston Globe have tried that with proprietary software. There have been few customers.

We who learned to get news from the Web are now expert with the structured formats of most news sites and find them more effective than paper layouts. The Post has the most effective structured format of U.S. news sites today.

Posted by: AppDev | March 1, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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