The New News Landscape Is Omnipresent

A new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project aimed at understanding the new news landscape, reports that 56% of American adults say they follow the news "all or most of the time," and 25% follow the news at least "some of the time." 99% of American adults say that on a typical day, they get news from at least one of these media platforms: a local or national print newspaper, a local or national television news broadcast, radio or the internet, and the internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.

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":

  • 78% of Americans say they get news from a local TV station.
  • 73% say they get news from a national network such as CBS or cable TV station such as CNN or Fox News.
  • 61% say they get some kind of news online.
  • 54% say they listen to a radio news program at home or in the car.
  • 50% say they read news in a local newspaper.
  • 17% say they read news in a national newspaper such as the New York Times or USA Today.

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:

  • Portable: 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.
  • Personalized: 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.
  • Participatory: 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

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:

  • First, the advent of social media like social networking sites and blogs has helped the news become a social experience in fresh ways for consumers. People use their social networks and social networking technology to filter, assess and react to news.
  • Second, the ascent of mobile connectivity via smart phones has turned news gathering and news awareness into an anytime, anywhere affair for a segment of avid news watchers.

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:

  • Weather (followed by 81% of internet news users)
  • National events (73%)
  • Health and medicine (66%)
  • Business and the economy (64%)
  • International events (62%)
  • Science and technology (60%)

And, they would like to receive more coverage in these areas:

  • 44% said scientific news and discoveries
  • 41% said religion and spirituality
  • 39% said health and medicine
  • 39% said their state government
  • 38% said their neighborhood or local community

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


Traffic information


Financial information


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."

For more from PewResearch, please go here.





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