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The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get news on a typical day, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Americans Go On- and Offline for News

Americans get their news from a combination of on- and offline sources, including national TV, local TV, the internet, local newspapers, radio, and national newspapers. Six in ten Americans (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day, and the internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.

Forty-six percent 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.

The following figures illustrate the multiplatform nature of modern American news consumption:

  • 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 FoxNews.
  • 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.

Most People Use Few News Sites
Most news consumers utilize multiple platforms for news, but online their range of specific outlets is limited. The majority of online news consumers (57%) 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. When asked whether they have a favorite online news source, the majority of online news users (65%) say they do not. Among those who do, the most popular sites are those of major news organizations such as such as CNN and Fox.

Customization Important to Online News Consumers
Twenty-eight percent of internet users have customized their home page to include news from their favorite source or topics and 40% of internet users say an important feature of a news website to them is the ability to customize the news they get from the site. Moreover, 36% of internet users say an important part of a news website to them is the ability to manipulate content themselves such as graphics, maps, and quizzes.

News Goes Mobile
Eighty percent of American adults have cell phones today, and 37% of them go online from their phones. Twenty-six percent of all Americans say they get some form of news via cell phone today, which amounts to 33% of cell phone owners. These wireless news consumers get the following types of news on their phones:

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Email, SocNets Gain Popularity
Seventy-five percent of online news consumers say they get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52% say they share links to news with others via those means. Fifty-one percent social networking site (e.g. Facebook) users who are also online news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people they follow. Another 23% of this cohort follow news organizations or individual journalists on social networking sites.

In addition, 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commentary about it, or dissemination of news via social media. They have done at least one of the following: commenting on a news story (25%); posting a link on a social networking site (17%); tagging content (11%), creating their own original news material or opinion piece (9%), or tweeting about news (3%).

Digital, Cable News Audiences Only Media to Grow in 2009
For the third consecutive year, only digital and cable news saw audiences grow among the key sectors that deliver news in 2009, according to other research from The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. Overall, median prime time viewership for the three main cable news channels grew 7% to 3.88 million in 2009 – but Fox alone grew by nearly 25% to 2.13 million viewers. MSNBC rose 3% to 786,000, while CNN slipped 15%, to 891,000.

Looking at online news performance, unique visitors grew 9.25% for 4,600 news and information sites. Top sites tend to dominate, with the top 7% pulling 80% of the traffic. The top 20 sites attract the majority of that traffic. Legacy media makes up the majority of the most popular destinations, though each year sees newly created websites joining the list.

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