TV Still Beats Internet For News

tvThe Internet has made major inroads as a source of American news--largely at the expense of newspapers--but television is still the favorite medium for news, according to the Pew Research Center, which released the results of its biannual survey of news media consumption on Monday.

The survey, performed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International this spring, contains few surprises--but it does corroborate the long-term decline in readership for newspapers' print editions, with the trend most evident among younger Americans.

The total number of respondents who said they had looked at a newspaper the day before slipped from 40% to 34% from 2006-2008, according to Pew. Meanwhile, the number of people who say the visit an Internet news sites at least three times a week increased from 18% in 2006 to 25% in 2008.

Within this cohort, there is a subgroup that in effect relies on the Internet entirely for its news. This subgroup, constituting 13% of the total, has a median age of 35, making it the youngest of the cohorts surveyed. It is also more likely to have a college education (80%) than the population at large (approximately 45%). Looking at the phenomenon from another angle, 44% of all college graduates say they go online to read the news every day.



(At the same time, younger adults seem to be less interested in news overall, according to Pew, which found that over 30% of adults under the age of 25 don't seek out news at all on any given day. That's an increase over 25% who made the same statement in 1998.)

Both newspapers and online trailed television as a primary news source, however, with 46% of respondents saying they get most of their news there. Within the TV-watching cohort, the proportion that watches a 6:30 network newscast has declined since 2006--benefiting the major cable networks, Fox News and CNN.

Not surprisingly, the viewers of cable news tend to self-segregate by political inclination, although that tendency is more pronounced among CNN viewers, where more than half identify as Democratic voters. Fox News viewers are more evenly distributed, with 39% identifying as Republican voters versus at 33% as Democrats. TV news watchers in general are older (their median age is 52) and more likely to be unemployed (43%) than the population at large (currently 7%).

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