Where do you get your news?
By Jeff Howland
In my younger days I delivered the Maine Sunday Telegram around my small northern Maine neighborhood. Though it would be years before I would subscribe, to this day I still receive the Sunday paper. Good news for print media right? Except that I used to have a daily subscription, then a Thursday-Sunday, now Sunday only. I used to watch the local and national news most evenings during the week. Now I rarely watch either. The irony in this is that I’ve never been more in touch with current events, culture, and breaking news than I am today. This, of course is the result of online and social media. My experience is that of a member of the 30-49 age group, however as you’ll see here, news consumption habits across the board have evolved over the last decade, slanting toward the computer screen, tablet, mobile phone, and Facebook news feed.
My thoughts on this subject were triggered by the results of the Pew Research Center’s recent study looking at trends in news consumption from 1991-2012. The survey, conducted earlier this year, with 3,003 adults, simply asked where people got their news on the previous day. The findings are not a huge surprise, though there are a couple of key findings that stand out. Overall, as expected, there was a sharp dip in those getting their news from print (above). The telling decrease in the study is with television news. While TV had held steady through the online advance over the years, this study shows a slight decrease overall, and a significant decrease in the age range that will comprise the bulk of advertising budgets over the next 2-3 decades (left). As with me and likely many of you, news is now primarily consumed via online markets, specifically social media. Online and mobile news appetites have shifted heavily to digital versions of newspapers and even more to sites such as Facebook and Google+ (below). Twitter’s lower user population resulted in deceiving numbers here though, as the application has been very popular with journalists and other media professionals. Its numbers too, will grow significantly, as more people see what it’s all about.
I sit at a computer during the workday, with various social channels open – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc., and just today heard about two significant stories as they broke first on Twitter. Though my job allows me to keep an eye on social media all day, I feel that my experience can serve in some way as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for what is coming for a broader audience, and in many ways, what has already arrived. During the 2012 Olympic Games and then again during the recent presidential election, we saw a massive increase in use of social media by television networks and news organizations, along with associated increases in online advertising and digital communication strategies. These examples and this research reflect the reality of this cultural shift in how we consume news and information, along with the massive looming shift of advertising resources to online media.
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