April 18, 2011

from PreventDisease Website

Who watches TV any more? The Internet has officially outpaced television as the primary way young people consume their news.

The Pew Research Center reports that 65 percent of people under 30 cite the Internet as their primary news source, a number that's nearly doubled from 2007, when 34 percent said the same thing. Over the same period, the percentage of young adults citing television as their main new source dropped from 68 percent to 52 percent.


Comparatively, 48 percent of adults ages 30-49 report internet as their major source of news, 34 percent of those ages 50-64, and 14 percent of those 65 and older.

Online dating and online education are on the rise, as well. Instead of going to bars or going to classes people are setting up profiles and taking courses online, and more importantly, they are meeting success when they do so.

Media conglomerates are having a hard time keeping us with large independent websites taking away millions of viewers from television sets in all areas including entertainment, sports, travel, news, dating and even shopping.

But what is most interesting about this data are the differences in media consumption among races, classes, and political parties.


White and Hispanic respondents relied on television and internet in similar patterns:

  • 64 percent of whites relied on the Internet most while 41 percent of whites relied on television the most

  • 66 percent and 45 percent for Hispanics, respectively.

    (Respondents could list up to two primary news sources, which means numbers didn't add up to 100 percent.)

Over 20 percent more black respondents, however, cited television as their main news source (86 percent), with 35 percent relying primarily on the Internet.


This is interesting, considering it's been well-documented that black people are particularly active on social networking sites like Twitter. About a quarter of Twitter's users are black, twice their share of the general population.

The positive thing to notice about this change in mediums is that itís not just one thing thatís shifting toward an internet-focus. It seems like everything is going that way.


We start so young with technology that using the internet becomes a second-nature skill; as a kid you play video games, then youíre introduced to Facebook and Twitter as a teenager, which brings you to college where you have the option to take your classes online, and then land a job where internet-use is an important part of it.



TV News Still Dominates Among Less Educated

The income level and educational attainment categories paint a fuller picture of the trends around news.


A striking pattern holds true in both areas:

The more educated and higher-income you are, the more likely you are to get most of your news from the Internet, and the less likely you are to do the same from television.

College graduates are about as likely to get most of their national and international news from the internet (51%) as television (54%).


Those with some college are just as likely as college grads to cite the internet as their main source (51%), while 63% cite television. By contrast, just 29% of those with no more than a high school education cite the internet while more than twice as many (75%) cite television.

Similarly, those with household incomes of $75,000 or more are about as likely to get most of their news on the internet (54%) as from television (57%). People with household incomes under $30,000 are far more likely to cite television (72%) than the internet (34%).



Both Cable News and Broadcast News See Declines

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

  • 16% say they get most of their national and international news from local news programming

Compared with five years ago, the share citing a cable network as their main source is down seven points (from 43% to 36%), and the share citing a broadcast network is down eight points (from 30% to 22%).


The local news figure has remained relatively constant over this period.

Because the medium can so influence the message, so to speak, where different groups are sourcing news is an important area of research. The Internet, with its fast pace, plethora of news blogs, and the relative decentralization and diffusion of its authors and reporters carries content unlike that of TV, radio, newspapers, or magazines.


Each medium, of course, has its pros and cons, potentially influencing users' interpretation and understanding of the news.


Predictably, the Pew Center says it expects to see the Internet continue to become an increasingly important source of news for all folks - what's left to consider is how the hallmarks of that medium will define the content, substance, and shape of our news.