There remains a growing appetite for news to match the increase in places to get it, with local TV news
continuing to command the lion's share of attention. In fact, the decline and fall of traditional outlets may
be overrated, given that there are indications that online and other alternatives are, for the most part, being
added to the menu rather than replacing more traditional news diets. These non-traditional sources are also more than making up for what are
billed as "modest" declines in audiences for traditional platforms.
Those are among the key takeaways from the just-released Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
biennial report on media consumption.
People say they spend 57 minutes a day with TV, radio and newspaper news, but an additional 13 minutes with
"[I]nstead of replacing traditional news platforms, Americans are increasingly integrating new technologies
into their news consumption habits," the study concludes.
More than a third (36%) of Americans say they got
news from both digital and traditional sources yesterday, just shy of the number who relied solely on
traditional sources (39%). Only 9% of Americans got news through the internet and mobile technology without
also using traditional sources.
Perhaps, but all that news consumption hasn't translated into winning scores on a mini news quiz included in
the survey. Only 22% knew who Eric Holder is and 9% even identified him as the ousted CEO of BP (he is
Attorney General). Less than half (41%) knew that Steve Jobs was head of Apple. A majority (60%) did
identify Iceland as the home of the volcano that interrupted international travel.
Local TV News continues to be the leading outlet for news, topping everything from local print to national
cable and network news, and leading every demo.
According to the report, 50% regularly watch local TV news, topping the next biggest new source, daily newspapers at 40%. Network evening news comes in at number four with 28% saying they regularly watch. For the first time in the more than 10 years it has been tracked, more people said the regularly watched Fox news (23%) than CNN (18%). They were numbers five and seven, respectively, on the "regularly watch" scorecard. The study points to a 6 point decline in CNN audience share (from 24% in 2008), with Fox
remaining stable. Fox is teh fifth-most-watched accessed
news source after CNN's drop has been in a variety of demos, including
under 30's and over 50's. The study highlights the finding that more
65-plus viewers now watch Fox News (30%) than
CNN (21%), compared to 30% for CNN and 20% for Fox in 2008.
MSNBC's share of audience has fallen from 15% in 2008 to 11% in 2010, while CNBC's has fallen from 12% to 8%.
The partisan gap between CNN and Fox viewers as grown, with 40% of Republicans saying they regularly watch
the channel, compared to 15% of Democrats. In 2008, those figures were much closer at 36% and 21%
Nearly half of the respondents said they get news online three or more days a week, up from 37% two years
ago, and about a third get it every day. And the value of getting your news link into that search engine is
crucial. A third of respondents said they use Google, Yahoo! or Bing to search for news, up from 19% just two
yaersago. Yahoo! was the most often mentioned site for news online (28%), followed by CNN (16%) and Google
15%), though to be fair Google and Yahoo! visitors are accessing CNN and other news sites from that launching
pad, including Fox (8%), MSNBC (7%) and the network news sites: ABC, NBC (2% apiece), NPR and CBS (1%
Other news technologies are much further down the scale. Only 12% say they regularly get news via e-mail and
10% said they do so via an RSS feed or customizable Web page. Only 8% get news on cell phones, though
broadcasters are hoping to boost that number with their new mobile DTV service. Only 7% get news through
social networks, 5% via podcasts, 2% through twitter and only 1% using an iPad or tablet computer.
There remains a lot of skepticism in the audience about all that news media they are consuming. Asked if they
believe all or most of what a news organization says, only 29% had that level of trust in local TV news. But
that was actually the second best result, topped only by 33% for 60 Minutes.
CNN was tied with local news at 29%, followed by NPR at 28% and Fox News at 27%. C-SPAN was down the list at
23%, but it topped ABC and CBS News at 21% and NBC News at 20%.
Among the other key findings, according to Pew:
More men (50%) than women (39%) get news on digital platforms, and men are more likely to get news by cell phone, email, RSS feeds or podcasts than women.
Men and women are equally likely to get news via Twitter or social networking sites.
More people are becoming news grazers, saying they mostly get news "from time to time" rather than at "regular times." The percentage of grazers was 57% in 2010, up from 48% in 2006.
One-in-four people who have DVRs say they record news.
More than eight-in-ten (82%) say they see at least some bias in news coverage, with more saying it is liberal
(43%) than conservative (23%).
Survey results are based on Princeton Survey Research Associates International phone interviews June 8-28
among a national sample of 3,006 U.S. adults ages 18-plus.
In a commentary on the findings, Tom Rosenstiel, Director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, offers some explanation for the study's finding that "people are not simply replacing old
technologies with new but using new ones for different things or in different ways, augmenting their more
For one thing, he says, the content is changing and being customized to fit a particularly interest or even
location, with an understanding that consumers are participants in the process rather than simply receptors.
He also says faster connections have brought more of technology's potential to life, and that consumers may
be better recognizing the relative strengths and weaknesses of different media.