Media Magazine

The Modern News Consumer? Interested but Hard to Retain

Posted on the 05 August 2016 by Themarioblog @garciainteract
This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed. The next blog post is Monday, August 8.

Delighted to read this new Pew Research Center Report , conducted in early 2016 in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, reveals a public that is cautious as it moves into this more complex news environment and discerning in its evaluation of available news sources.

There are not a lot of surprises here, but tons of reaffirmation for what I have encountered in my own work with newsrooms globally, and, especially with focus groups in continents as far as Asia and South America. This Report involves only subjects in the United States, but the results may be applicable elsewhere.

What are the defining traits of the modern news consumer? Here are some highlights of interest:

-News continues to be important—
More than seven-in-ten U.S. adults follow national and local news somewhat or very closely – 65% follow international news with the same regularity. Fully 81% of Americans get at least some of this news through websites, apps or social networking sites.

—Mobile, mobile, mobile—And, just in case anyone still hd a doubt, the digital news intake is increasingly mobile. Among those who get news both on desktop computers and mobile devices, more than half prefer mobile.  Mobile news consumption is rising rapidly. The portion of Americans who ever get news on a mobile device has gone up from 54% in 2013 to 72% today.

-Not such good news for print—In 2016, Americans express a clear preference for getting their news on a screen – though which screen that is varies. TV remains the dominant screen, followed by digital. As of early 2016, just two-in-ten U.S. adults often get news from print newspapers. This has fallen from 27% in 2013. Compared with print, nearly twice as many adults (38%) often get news online, either from news websites/apps (28%), on social media (18%) or both. (81% of adults ever get news on these online platforms.)

Important to remember: Most of those who prefer to read the news have migrated online.

—Social media, friends and family: The good news here is that while about two-thirds (63%) of Americans say family and friends are an important way they get news, whether online or offline; 10% see them as the most important.

Still, online news organizations play the larger role: 36% of online news consumers often get news from news organizations, compared with about half as many who do so from people with whom they are close (15%). Even fewer (6%) say they often get news from people they’re not close with.

—Social media and trust—While many get their news from social media outlets, only a slim minority trusts social media for news accuracy.  In fact, only 4% of web-using adults have a lot of trust in the information they find on social media. And that rises to only 7% among those who get news on these sites.

-Intentions matter: Here is where casual news readers and more devoted news seekers differ greatly. When it comes to online news consumption: those who seek the news out behave differently than those who stumble into news while doing other things online. Those who get news online by seeking it out (“seekers”) are more interested in news overall: 63% say that they follow the news all or most of the time, compared with 43% of those who do not tend to seek out news online.

-News and the elusive young ones—Surprisingly for a veteran like me: the young do stumble upon news links and read news stories, most likely via social media. However, the fact that young adults have greater interest in news on social media does not result in greater engagement with news there, as they are no more likely to share/repost news stories or comment on news stories than others.

Despite their lower levels of news interest in general, on social media, those ages 18-29 are at least as likely as others to often click on links to news stories (30%, which is on par with those ages 30-49 and higher than those 50+).

TheMarioBlog post #2064
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