The process Americans use to get news is based on foraging and opportunism, says the report. They access news when the spirit moves them or they have a chance to check up on headlines. At the same time, gathering the news is not entirely an open-ended exploration for consumers, even online where there are limitless possibilities for exploring news.
Some 46% of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms on a typical day. Just 7% get their news from a single media platform on a typical day. On that "typical day":
While online, most people say they use between two and five online news sources and 65% say they do not have a single favorite website for news. 21% say they routinely rely on just one site for their news and information.
In this new multi-platform media environment, people's relationship to news is becoming portable, personalized and participatory. These new metrics stand out:
To a great extent, people's experience of news, especially on the internet, is becoming a shared social experience as people swap links in emails, post news stories on their social networking site feeds, highlight news stories in their Tweets and haggle over the meaning of events in discussion threads. For instance, more than 8 in 10 online news consumers get or share links in emails.
The rise of the internet as a news platform has been an integral part of these changes. This report discusses two significant technological trends that have influenced news consumption behavior:
57% of online news consumers say they routinely rely on just two to five websites for their news. Only 11% say they get their news from more than five websites and 21% regularly rely on just one site. Moreover, many do not have strong loyalty to particular online sources. 65% say they do not they have a favorite online news source,
The most popular online news subjects are:
And, they would like to receive more coverage in these areas:
Some 80% of American adults have cell phones today, and 37% of them go online from their phones. The impact of this new mobile technology on news gathering is unmistakable. 26% of all Americans say they get some form of news via cell phone today. That amounts to 33% of cell phone owners. These wireless news consumers get the following types of news on their phones:
News Accessed on Handheld Devices
Type of News
% of Mobile Users Accessing
News and current events
An application for news content
Sports scores and stories
News via emails and texts
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, January 2010
Wireless news consumers have fitted this "on-the-go" access to news into their already voracious news-gathering habits. They use multiple news media platforms on a typical day, forage widely on news topics and browse the web for a host of subjects. 70% agreed that "The amount of news and information available from different sources today is overwhelming."
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