Americans Prefer Web to Newspapers as Main News Source

06 January 2009

WASHINGTON, DC: Over one thousand Americans polled by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press have declared their preference for the internet as a source of national and international news.

Asked where they obtained "most of" their national and international news, 40% of respondents cited the web versus 35% who preferred newspapers.

But, stresses the Center, its finding does not imply a decline in the popularity of newspapers – which have gained a percentage point over last year. What the data actually reflect, says Pew, is a near-doubling of the number of people naming the web as their primary news source, up from 24% last year.

Last November's presidential election is credited by Pew's associate director Michael Dimock for boosting the internet's popularity as a news source.

"People often don't want the general overview of an election," he opined. "They may want to follow their candidate, picking and choosing what they're looking at in a way that mainstream media doesn't allow."

Dimock also believes that political coverage works effectively with interactive features such as comment threads and web polls [is he serious about the latter?]. Conversely by way of example, "the war in Iraq is a story well told by newspapers and television." 

TV, America's major mass medium, is not otherwise mentioned. An oddity that might be explained by the fact that the self-proclaimed "non-partisan fact tank" was previously known as the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff