Tuesday, March 02, 2010

More than a quarter of Americans get their news on cell phones: Pew Research

The newspaper industry has been dying, in stages, for some time. Many attribute this to the migration of users away from print to the Internet. However, a Pew Research points out that the screens involved aren't necessarily laptop or desktop LCDs: over one quarter of those surveyed are using cell phones to get their news.

To be exact, 26 percent of those who responded said they received at least some news via their cell phone. In terms of cell phone users, that amounts to 33 percent of respondents.

Additionally, newspapers are taking a hit "audience-wise," but so are other media sources. The reason is that Americans have diversified their news gathering. According to the survey, 92 percent of Americans use multiple "media platforms" to get information daily. 46 percent said they get news from four to six media platforms on a daily basis, with only 7 percent using just one venue. The sources indicated include TV news (split into national and local), the Web, newspapers (split into local and national) and the radio.

Television is still the biggest source of news, with 78% of Americans saying they get news from a local TV station, and 73 percent saying they get news from a national network. The Internet it currently in second place, at 61 percent. Radio is third at 54 percent, and 50 percent say they they read the local newspaper. National newspapers have a dismal showing in this survey, with only 17 percent saying they read national newspapers such as the New York Times or
USA Today.

Pew Research said the new approach to Americans' news viewing represents the "three Ps," that is, portable, personalized, and participatory. They defined them as follows:
  • Portable: 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.
  • Personalized: 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.
  • Participatory: 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
The participatory nature of news is interesting. Not only do people post updates for crisis situations to Twitter, they post on iReport and other social news venues, and even Facebook. The only problem with this sort of thing is when the news isn't vetted properly (recall that fake iReport that said Steve Jobs had a heart attack?).

The results in this Pew Research report were based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between December 28, 2009 and January 19, 2010. The sample size was 2,259 U.S. adults, age 18 and older, conducted in English. The full report can be found on Pew's website, in a PDF document.
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