The Pew Research Center, which regularly surveys U.S. consumers about their media consumption habits, put out a report which shows that more people are getting their news online than from print newspapers. In response to a survey question asking people where they got their news yesterday, 34 percent answered online versus only 31 percent from a daily newspaper.
If this doesn’t sound like news, that is because nearly two years ago the exact same research organization declared that the Internet had taken over from newspapers by an even greater margin—40 percent to 35 percent. That question was worded slightly differently (Where do you get most of your news?), which might account for the disparity. But now the Internet is beating newspapers in yesterday’s news as well, which I’m not sure is something to crow about. (How about asking people where they got their news today?)
In the more recent survey, the same number of respondents, 34 percent, got their news from radio. TV still rules with 58 percent. I think we will definitely crush radio by the time the next survey comes out. TV will be more difficult to conquer, especially if you believe, as Pew claims, that 21 percent of American adults do not use the Internet at all. I still have hope for America, however, that most will join the enlightened third of online news readers like everyone reading this post (yup, I’m pandering now).
If I worked at a daily newspaper, I might try to find some better news in these numbers, such as the fact that traditional media is holding its own in term of time spent with the news. The time spent consuming news on radio, TV, and newspapers combined is 57 minutes per day, the same as it was in 2000. TV makes up 32 minutes of that, radio is 15 minutes, and newspapers make up 10 minutes. Online news, however, takes up 13 minutes a day, so the print guys really have nothing to celebrate.
However, there is a silver lining. Online news includes newspaper websites, as well as CNN.com and the sites of other traditional news outlets. So they are not losing their audience, so much as watching them shift to the Web. Now, if only they could charge advertisers the same for reaching that audience online as they can in print.