WASHINGTON DC: TV continues to be the most widely used news platform for US adults, especially among older generations, but a full 81% of Americans get at least some news content online, a new survey has revealed.
Pew Research Center, the independent think tank, worked with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation earlier this year to explore the habits and attitudes of US news consumers.
The two-part study included an initial survey of 4,654 adults aged 18+, which was followed up a month later with an online poll of more than 2,000 participants, who were asked in real time about the news they had received in the previous two hours.
As of early 2016, Americans showed a clear preference for getting their news on a screen – just 20% used print newspapers – and TV remained dominant.
Of US news consumers who often access the news on each platform, the majority (57%) opted for TV, either from local TV (46%), cable (31%), network (30%), or some combination of the three.
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Online platforms, including social media, were the second most popular source of news (38%), followed by radio (25%) and print newspapers (20%).
However, the study revealed stark differences between the generations when it came to TV news consumption, leading Pew to suggest there was "fragility behind those TV numbers".
It found solid majorities of US adults aged 50-64 (72%) and 65+ (85%) often got their news from TV, but a much smaller proportion of younger adults followed suit – less than half of those aged 30-49 and just around a quarter (27%) of those aged 18-29.
Instead, younger Americans were much more likely than older adults to go online for the news, including 50% of those aged 18-29 and 49% of 30- to 49-year-olds.
The attraction of online sources for younger news consumers was reinforced by another survey finding that just 5% of 18- to 29-year-olds often got news from a print newspaper compared with about half (48%) of those aged 65 and above.
Pew concluded that most of those who want to read the news have now migrated online, while "TV's staying power over print is buttressed by the fact that Americans who prefer to watch news still choose TV".
Data sourced from Pew Research Center; additional content from Warc staff