Pew Study: News Appetite Grows, With Local TV Topping Diet
People Spend Up To 70 Minutes With News Per Day, Most Via Traditional Outlets
John Eggerton — Multichannel News, 9/12/2010 4:00:00 PM
There remains a growing appetite for news to match the increase in places to get it, with local TV news
continuing to command the lion’s share of attention.
In fact, the decline and fall of traditional outlets may be overrated given that there are indications online and other alternatives are, for the most part, being added to the menu, rather than replacing more traditional news diets, and are more than making up for what are billed as “modest” declines in audiences for traditional platforms.
Those are among the key takeaways from the just-released Pew Research Center for its “People & the Press”
biennial report on media consumption.
Respondents indicated that they spend 57 minutes a day with TV, radio and newspaper news, and an additional 13 minutes with online news.
“Instead of replacing traditional news platforms, Americans are increasingly integrating new technologies into their news consumption habits,” according to the study.
More than a third (36%) of Americans said they got news from both digital and traditional sources yesterday, just shy of the number reliant solely on traditional sources (39%). Only 9% of Americans received news through the internet and mobile technology without also using traditional sources.
But all that news consumption hasn’t translated into winning scores on a mini quiz included in the survey. Only 22% knew who Attorney General Eric Holder is and 9% even identified him as the ousted CEO of BP. Less than half (41%) knew that Steve Jobs headed Apple, while a majority (60%) identified Iceland as the home of the volcano that interrupted international travel.
Local TV news continues to be the leading outlet for news, topping everything from local print to national
cable and network news, and leading every demo.
According to the report, 50% regularly watch local TV news, topping the next biggest new source, daily newspapers at 40%. Network evening news comes in at number four: 28% said they regularly watch it.
For the first time in the more than 10 years it has been tracked, more people said the regularly watched Fox
News Channel (23%) than CNN (18%). They were numbers five and seven, respectively, on the “regularly watch”
scorecard. The study points to a 6-point decline in CNN audience share (from 24% in 2008), with Fox News
According to the Pew survey, Fox News was fifth-most-watched accessed news source as CNN’s drop came across a number of demos, including those under 30 and those over 50. The study found that more 65-plus viewers now watch Fox News (30%) than CNN (21%), compared to 30% for CNN and 20% for Fox in 2008.
MSNBC’s share of audience fell from 15% in 2008 to 11% in 2010, while CNBC’s declined from 12% to 8%.
The partisan gap between CNN and Fox News viewers grew, as 40% of Republicans said they regularly watch the channel, compared to 15% of Democrats. In 2008, those figures were much closer at 36% and 21%,
Nearly half of the respondents said they get news online three or more days a week, up from 37% two years
ago, and about a third get it every day. And the value of getting news linked into a search engine is
crucial. A third of respondents said they use Google, Yahoo! or Bing to search for news, up from 19% just two
yaers ago. Yahoo! was the site most often mentioned for news online (28%), followed by CNN (16%) and Google
15%). To be fair, though, Google and Yahoo! visitors access CNN and other news sites from those launching
pads, including Fox News (8%), MSNBC (7%) and the network news sites: ABC NBC (2% apiece), and NPR and CBS (1% apiece).
Other news technologies ranked further down the scale. Only 12% said they regularly received news via e-mail and
10% said they do so via an RSS feed or customizable Web page. Only 8% got news on cell phones, though
broadcasters are hoping to boost that number with their new mobile DTV service. Only 7% tapped news through
social networks, 5% via podcasts, 2% through Twitter and only 1% using an iPad or tablet computer.
Audiences remained skeptical about all that news media they are consuming. Asked if they believe all or most of what a news organization reported, only 29% had that level of trust in local TV news. But that was actually the second best result, topped only by 33% for CBS’s venerable 60 Minutes.
CNN was tied with local news at 29%, followed by NPR at 28% and Fox News at 27%. C-SPAN was down the list at
23%, but it topped ABC and CBS News at 21% and NBC News at 20%.
Among other key findings, according to Pew:
*More men (50%) than women (39%) accessed news on digital platforms, with guy more likely to get news by cell phone, email, RSS feeds or podcasts than women;
*Men and women were equally likely to get news via Twitter or social networking sites;
*More people have become news grazers, saying they mostly get news “from time to time,” rather than at
“regular times.” The percentage of grazers was 57% in 2010, up from 48% in 2006;
*One-in-four people with DVRs record news; and
*More than eight-in-ten (82%) say they see at least some bias in news coverage, with more saying it is liberal
(43%) than conservative (23%).
The survey results were based on Princeton Survey Research Associates International phone interviews conducted from June 8-28, drawn from a national sample of 3,006 U.S. adults ages 18-plus.
In a commentary on the findings, Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence
in Journalism, offered some explanation for the study’s finding that “people are not simply replacing old
technologies with new but using new ones for different things or in different ways, augmenting their more
For one thing, he said, the content is changing and being customized to fit a particularly interest or even
location, with an understanding that consumers are participants in the process, rather than simply receptors.
He also said faster connections have brought more of technology’s potential to life, and that consumers may
be better at recognizing the relative strengths and weaknesses of different media.