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Where Do Americans Get Their News?

The answer to the question in the headline is not merely a single source and obviously varies widely by age group. It is surely not just the printed paper sold by the cartoon newspaper hawker. The data is also quickly changing, and therefore old data is as relevant as yesterday’s newspaper. A subset to this question is news about what? Obviously this week the “news” has been about the horror of Sandy, a World Series, football games and the upcoming election. There are different sources for different types of news. However comparisons to yesteryear are critical to see how much the news world has changed.

By the end of the year Newsweek will no longer publish its print edition which followed the previous demise of the printed version of U.S. News & World Report. In the newspaper world several newspapers have announced the reduction of publication from daily to 3 times weekly–more newspapers to follow.

Just a couple of decades ago TV news (network and local) were dominant as primary vehicles to deliver news, as was the daily newspaper. As mentioned earlier, Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report provided insightful recaps of the weekly events. Local news radio provided local flavor as well.

Then this internet thing happened…..

There was some fascinating data in the October 8 ADWEEK on this issue. Here’s a quick summary of the changes between 1991 and today:

Question: Where did you get the news yesterday?

1991—–TV 68%, Newspaper 56%, Radio 54%

2012—–TV 56%, Radio 35%, Newspaper 29%,

Digital/Online 39% (now the 2nd largest!)

Source: Pew Research Center 2012 News Consumption

What is particularly interesting is that the study indicated that 29% of people under 25 got no news at all on a typical day. Also interesting, though not surprising,  is the data about the size of the news audiences by age segment and the (lack of) relevance to a younger audience of the network TV news, the historical “gold standard” –see Where Have You Gone Walter Cronkite? Of the 18-29 audience only 9% got their news from the TV network news, a 39 index to the size of the audience.

NewseumNothing stays the same, particularly in the news world. I love knowing what’s going on in the world as it happens. And I enjoy having many resources to do so. But for those who are fascinated by the world of news, past and present,  I strongly recommend a trip to the Newseum in D.C., a truly great museum. If you go, you’ll thank me later.




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