News Industry Gaining With Technology

According to the 2012 State of the News Media report by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, the spread of mobile technology is adding to news consumption, strengthening the appeal of traditional news brands and boosting reading of long-form journalism.

27% of Americans now get news on mobile devices, and for the vast majority, this is increasing news consumption, the report says. More than 80% of smartphone and tablet news consumers still get news on laptop or desktop computers. On mobile devices, news consumers also are more likely to go directly to a news site or use an app, rather than to rely on search, strengthening the bond with traditional news brands.

Digital Consumers Add To News Consumption

  • 34% of desktop/laptop news consumers also get news on a smartphone
  • 27% of smartphone news consumers also get news on a tablet
  • 17% of desktop/laptop news consumers also get news on a tablet

PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel said “... our analysis suggests that news is becoming a more important and pervasive part of people’s lives... but it remains unclear who will benefit economically from this growing appetite for news... ”

eMarketer says it’s technology intermediaries who are capturing even more of the digital revenue pie. In 2011, five technology giants generated 68% of all digital ad revenue, not including Amazon and Apple, which make their money from devices and downloads. By 2015, roughly one out of every five display ad dollars is expected to go to Facebook, according to the same source.

Only about a third as many news consumers follow stories via Facebook today as do so by going directly to news websites or apps or by using search, according to the PEJ survey. For Twitter, the proportion drops to less than a sixth as many.

PEJ Deputy Director, Amy Mitchell, said “News organizations have a big opportunity in the social and mobile realms... but they will need to do a better job... of understanding audience behavior and developing effective technology and revenue models (for social and mobile)... ”

Key findings from the study are summarized in the report:

  • Just 9% of digital news consumers say they follow news recommendations from Facebook or Twitter “very often” on any digital device, compared with 36% who say the same about directly going to a news organization’s site or app
  • According to PEJ’s analysis of traffic data from Hitwise, 9% of traffic to news sites now comes from Facebook, Twitter and smaller social media sites. That is up by more than half since 2009. The percentage coming from search engines, meanwhile, has dropped to 21% of news site traffic, from 23% in 2009
  • 70% of Facebook news consumers get most of their story links from friends and family. Just 13% say most links that they follow come from news organizations. On Twitter, 36% say most of the links they follow come from friends and family, 27% say most come from news organizations, and 18% mostly follow links from non-news entities such as think tanks. And most feel that the news they get on either network is news they would have seen elsewhere without that platform.
  • News websites saw the greatest audience growth (17%) for the year. In addition, every sector of television news gained in 2011. Cable news audiences also grew, by 1%, after falling the year before. Print newspapers, meanwhile, stood out for their continued decline, which nearly matched the previous year’s 5% drop. Magazines were flat.
  • Despite audience gains, only the web and cable news enjoyed ad revenue growth in 2011. Online advertising increased 23%, and cable ads grew 9%. Network TV was down 3.7%; magazines ad pages, 5.6%; local news, 6.7%; and newspapers, 7.6%.
  • As many as 100 newspapers are expected in coming months to join the roughly 150 dailies that have already moved to some kind of digital subscription model, driven by steep drops in ad revenue and witnessing the success of The New York Times, which now has roughly 390,000 online subscribers
  • Finally, the emerging landscape of community news sites is reaching a new level of maturity. The model for success, says the report, is epitomized by Texas Tribune and MinnPost, to diversify funding sources and spend more resources on business, not just journalism.

For additional information about the study, please visit here.

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