Monday, March 1, 2010
By Bruce Mohl
Americans get their news from a variety of sources, and the internet is now the third most popular source, behind local and national television news and ahead of local and national newspapers and radio, according to a new study released today by the Pew Research Center.
The study is full of facts and figures that are sometimes overwhelming, so I encourage everyone to read it themselves. What I found intriguing was how the news experience for most people is changing. Instead of a strictly top-down approach, where people get their news delivered from one or two sources, it is now more of a social experience. People swap links in emails, post news stories on their social networking sites, and highlight stories in their Tweets.
“People use their social networks and social networking technology to filter, assess, and react to news,” the report says.
The survey found that 37 percent of internet users take action with regard to news they find important by either commenting on it, posting a link to it on a social networking site, creating their own news in response, or Tweeting about it.
The other big takeaway from the study is that a third of all cell-phone owners use their phones to get news on the go. It’s generally lighter news – weather, sports scores, traffic information and the like – but a new platform for news is nevertheless emerging.
Even as people are accessing news more and more ways, their understanding of it may not be keeping pace. The survey found that 70 percent of respondents completely or mostly agreed that the amount of news and information available from different sources today is overwhelming.
For a public relations take on the Pew study, check out the PR Finish Line blog. Ed Cafasso, senior vice president at MS&L Boston, says the study indicates newspapers and magazines are declining in importance and having a point of view is important if you’re trying to get a message out in today’s media environment.
Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine.