The internet is slowly closing in on television as Americans’ main source of national and international news, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Currently, 41% of Americans say they get most of their news about national and international news from the internet, which is little changed during the past two years but up 71% since 2007 (24%).
TV remains the most widely used source for national and international news, as 66% of Americans say it is their main source of news. However, that figure is down 11% from 74% three years ago and 19.5% from 82% as recently as 2002.
Internet Gains as Newspapers Lose
Study data shows more people continue to cite the internet than newspapers as their main source of news, reflecting both the growth of the internet, and the gradual decline in newspaper readership (down almost 9% from 34% in 2007 to 31% now). The proportion citing radio as their main source of national and international news has remained relatively stable in recent years; currently, 16% say it is their main source.
Internet Surpasses TV among Young Consumers
In 2010, for the first time, the internet has surpassed television as the main source of national and international news for people younger than age 30. Since 2007, the number of 18-to-29-year-olds citing the internet as their main source has nearly doubled, from 34% to 65%. Meanwhile, the number of young people citing television as their main news source has dropped 23.5%, from 68% to 52%.
Among those ages 30 to 49, the internet is on track to equal, or perhaps surpass, television as the main source of national and international news within the next few years. Currently, 48% in this age group say the internet is their main source, up 50% from 32% 2007, and 63% cite television, down 11% from 71%.
The internet also has grown as a news source for people ages 50 to 64. Currently, 34% in this demographic say the internet is their main source of national and international news, nearly equal to the number who cite newspapers (38%), though still far below television (71%). There has been relatively little change in the how people ages 65 and older get their news. The internet has almost tripled in usage in the last few years, rising to 14% from 5% in 2007, but is still far behind newspapers (47%) and television (79%) as a main source.
TV News Still Dominates Among Less Educated
College graduates are about as likely to get most of their national and international news from the internet (51%) as television (54%). Those with some college education are just as likely as college grads to cite the internet as their main source (51%), while 63% cite television. By contrast, just 29% of those with no more than a high school education cite the internet while more than twice as many (75%) cite television.
Similarly, those with household incomes of $75,000 or more are about as likely to get most of their news on the internet (54%) as from television (57%). People with household incomes less than $30,000 are far more likely to cite television (72%) than the internet (34%).
Westerners More Web-friendly
There also are different patterns of news consumption across regions of the country. Notably, people living in the West are the most likely to cite the internet as their main source of national and international news (47% compared 40% in other parts of the country), and the least likely to cite television (55% compared 68% elsewhere).
Both Cable News and Broadcast News See Declines
Reflecting the slow decline in the proportion of people getting most of their national and international news from television, the numbers specifically citing cable news outlets or broadcast networks as their main news source has fallen. When asked where on television they get most of their news, 36% of respondents name a cable network such as CNN, the Fox News Channel or MSNBC; 22% name ABC News, CBS News or NBC News; and 16% say they get most of their national and international news from local news programming.
Compared with five years ago, the share citing a cable network as their main source is down 16% (from 43% to 36%), and the share citing a broadcast network is down 27% (from 30% to 22%). The local news figure has remained relatively constant over this period.
Hearst: Consumers Prefer Local TV News
When asked their preferred media for news, more than half of consumers (55%) cited local TV, according to a recent study from Hearst Television, Inc. and Frank M. Magid Associates, Inc. Websites/internet came in a distant second, mentioned by 19% of consumers.
No other type of media even received a double-digit answer. Cable TV came in third with an 8% response rate, tied with print newspapers. Broadcast network news only scored a 5% response rate, and no respondents selected print magazines.
About the Data: The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press was conducted Dec. 1-5, 2010, among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines