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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

December 12, 2007 / Toby Dayton

Where Do Americans Get Their News?

snapz-pro-xscreensnapz010.jpgThe ongoing Newspaper Association of America (NAA) marketing campaign continues to dumdfound and amaze, with the release of another bizarre ad touting the daily newspaper industry. I’ll leave aside the critique of the image itself (comments on the campaign’s aesthetics can be found here and here) and focus on the message about where Americans get their news. While the copy in the ad suggests that Americans get their news from the daily newspaper, the facts indicate otherwise.

A Pew Research Center study indicates that 29% of Americans go online for their news at least 3 times per week, up from 20% in 2000. The numbers get even worse for younger Americans, and absolutely abysmal for younger, more educated Americans. As the study points out:

Education continues to be the biggest single factor driving online news use, largely due to the continuing gap in Internet access. Fully half of college graduates regularly use the web for news, compared with just 18% of high school graduates and 8% of those who didn’t finish high school. When education and age are analyzed together, striking patterns emerge; about three-quarters of male college graduates under age 40 (74%) regularly go online for news, compared with just 45% of female college graduates in the same age category. That dwarfs the overall eight-point gender gap in regular Internet news use (33% vs. 25%).

In addition, many more younger male college graduates (those 18-39) than those age 40 and older regularly go online for news (74% vs. 48%). There is no such age difference among women college graduates because of a rapid growth in online news use among female college graduates age 40 and older 42% regularly log on for news, compared with 29% two years ago.

A recent Harris Poll found that the vast majority of American adults get their news most frequently from broadcast media. 77% of adults get their news from local network news, while 71% also indicated that they watch network news or cable news shows several times per week or daily. In that same poll, only 18% of adults indicated that they read a national newspaper. This came in even behind satellite radio, listened to by 19% of adults. While 63% of adults read a local newspaper, those readers are predominantly older (classified as Matures or Baby Boomers).

The detailed breakdown of the Harris Poll is as follows:

While broadcast television news appears to be the most popular medium sought, many adults also get their news several times a week or daily by going online to get news (64%), reading a local daily newspaper (63%), listening to radio news broadcasts (54%), listening to talk radio stations (37%), listening to satellite news programming (19%), and reading a national newspaper (18%).

A key indicator of media usage is age. Specifically:

    • Matures (those 59 years of age and older) are most likely to rely on more traditional media outlets for information, with at least eight in 10 Matures saying they watch local broadcast news (88%), watch network broadcast or cable news (88%), or read a local daily newspaper (80%) several times a week or daily.

    • Baby boomers (those 40 to 58 years of age) use the most varied types of media, with at least one in five boomers using each medium examined several times a week or daily. Along with Matures, Baby Boomers are most likely to watch both local and broadcast or cable television newscasts (83% and 74%, respectively), read local daily newspapers (66%), and listen to radio newscasts (64%) and talk radio (40%). Boomers and Gen Xers (those 28 to 39 years of age) are most likely to go online for news (68% and 70%, respectively).

    • Generation Xers are most likely to get their news several times a week or daily from local broadcast stations (69%) or online sources (68%).

    • Echo boomers (those 18 to 27 years of age) are the least frequent users of media, with only about half or less getting information several times a week or daily from each of the media types measured.

Finally, as pointed out in a recent blog post by  Jack Lail, a Zogby  poll places newspapers in 3rd place behind the web and  TV as the preferred source for news, capturing an anemic 12% share of the total audience.

So technically, the ad is correct. Americans do largely agree on where to get their news – anywhere except the newspaper.

[tags]Daily Newspapers, Decline of the Dailies, Death of the Dailies, Harris Poll, Pew Research Center, Zogby Poll, Where Do Americans Get Their News, News Sources, Newspaper Association of America, NAA, Awful Marketting Campaigns[/tags]