Most Americans Get|News Fix Online

     (CN) – After years of reports about what a sorrowful era this is for the news industry generally, a new Pew Research Center survey suggests Americans still want their news, it’s just that the vast majority are consuming it online or on the go.
     According to an analysis of “the modern news consumer” released Thursday, seven-in-ten U.S. adults follow national and local news closely, and 65 percent say they follow international news with the same regularity.
     But apparently gone are the days when people crowded newsstands for the latest edition of their local paper.
     The Pew Research Center found that a full 81 percent of Americans get at least some of their news through websites, apps or social networking sites and increasingly, this intake of digital news is mobile.
     Among those who engage news both on their desktop computers and mobile devices, more than half prefer to get their news via their mobile phone or tablet.
     Further, the study found that as of early 2016, just two-in-10 U.S. adults often get news from print newspapers. This is a sharp decline. In a similar survey conducted in 2013, 27 percent of participants said they got their news from newspapers.
     Pew researchers said the decrease in newspaper engagement occurred across all age groups, though the age differences are still stark: Only 5 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds often get news from a print newspaper, whereas about half (48 percent) of those 65 and older do.
     Compared with print, nearly twice as many adults (38 percent) often get news online, either from news websites/apps (28 percent), on social media (18 percent) or both.
     That’s not to suggest that “old” mediums have been completely supplanted by the new: 57 percent of U.S. adults say that still get most of their news from television. But the researchers threw in a caveat. That percentage is somewhat skewed by the popularity of televised news among the older people that were surveyed.
     More than 70 percent of Americans older than 50 said they often watch TV news; by comparison less than 50 percent of Americans younger than 50 said that they do.
     Borrowing down further, the researchers said only about a quarter of survey participants in their 20s, or who identified themselves as college students, watch television news on a regular basis. But slightly more than 50 percent of this group said they regularly consume news online.
     The Pew Research Center conducted its two-part survey on news consumption earlier this year in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
     The first survey was conducted between January 12 and February 8, 2016, among 4,654 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who are members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.
     The second survey consisted of 14 short, online surveys that were administered two per day from February 24 to March 1, 2016. Survey invitations were sent at different times each day, and responses were accepted for two hours after the invitations were sent.
     Panelists who completed the January wave on the web and reported that they get news online were also asked to participate in the experiential study; 2,078 panelists participated and completed at least 10 of the 14 surveys.
     The initial surveys covered a wide range of questions pertaining to news habits and attitudes; later, survey participants were asked what researchers described as “real time” questions about news they had gotten in the previous two hours.
     Beyond the broad percentages, the researchers said they found the public is generally cautious as it wades into the more complex digital news environment and discerning in its evaluation of available news sources.
     “In this digital news environment, the role of friends and family is amplified, but Americans still reveal strong ties to news organizations,” the researchers said. “The data also reinforce how, despite the dramatic changes witnessed over the last decade, the digital news era is still very much in its adolescence.”
     About two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say family and friends are an important way they get news, whether online or offline; 10 percent see them as the most important.
     Still, online news organizations play the larger role, the researchers said. They found that 36 percent of online news consumers often get news from news organizations, compared with about half as many who do so from people with whom they are close (15 percent). Even fewer (6 percent) say they often get news from people they’re not close with.
     But those who get news from these sources are as likely to say the news from close friends and family is relevant as they are to say this of news organizations; 15 percent of those who get online news from close personal contacts say those updates are very near to their interests, compared with 11 percent who get news from news organizations and 4 percent of those who get news from more distant contacts.
     The Pew researchers also found that when paired with the platforms people prefer, the data revealed that the web has largely pulled in “readers” rather than “watchers.”
     While those who prefer watching news predominantly opt for TV and listeners turn to radio, most of those who prefer reading news now opt to get news online rather than in print (59 percent, compared with 26 percent of news readers who opt for print).
     One interesting and admittedly disheartening finding of the study is that news consumers are largely skeptical of their sources of information.
     Two generations removed from the days when Walter Cronkite, anchor of the CBS Evening News for 19 years, was considered “the most trusted man in America,” only 22 percent of Americans said they give a lot of credence to the reporting they see from local news organizations, whether online or offline.
     And 18 percent said the same for national news organizations. As consolation, the researchers report that while the portion of respondents saying they have a lot of trust in their sources of news, a large majority indicated it has at least some level of trust in their sources of news.
     By comparison, it appears almost nobody trust news delivered to them through social media. Only 4 percent of adults said they put a lot of stock in information relayed to them on social media.
     When those who get news online were asked specifically about the accuracy on the information they received, news organizations rose to the top, with 15 percent of those who get news from news organizations online finding them “very accurate.”
     Not surprisingly, politics also plays a role in people’s perception of the news and the sources they rely on to get it.
     Democrats are more likely than others to have “a lot” of trust in the information from national news organizations: 27 percent do, compared with 15 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Independents.
     Those age 50 and over (22 percent) are also more likely than those ages 18-29 (10 percent) and those 30-49 (16 percent) to trust information from national news organizations a lot.

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