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Summary:

More than half of those surveyed in a new Gallup poll said that the television is their main source for news, and about 21 percent chose the internet. Less than 10 percent said print newspapers are their main source.

The broadcasting industry may be in the throes of disruption due to cord-cutting and other emerging trends, but television is still the number one source of news for most Americans, according to a new Gallup poll of news consumption habits — followed fairly closely by the internet. The number of people who say that they get their news primarily from printed newspapers or radio, meanwhile, comes in at single-digit levels.

When asked to answer an open-ended question about where they get their news, 55 percent of those surveyed by the polling firm mentioned TV news, with 8 percent mentioning Fox News specifically and 7 percent mentioning CNN as a preferred source, and 4 percent choosing “local TV news.” Meanwhile, 21 percent of those Gallup surveyed said that the internet was their main source of news — with 2 percent of that group mentioning Twitter, Facebook or social media as their number one source.

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The number of people who chose the internet as their primary source for news was more than twice as large as the number who said print newspapers and magazines were their main source: just 9 percent of those surveyed chose print, with 1 percent specifically mentioning the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal as their preferred source. Of course, many of those who chose the internet could have been referring to a newspaper’s website as their source — the survey didn’t break those numbers out.

The only thing that is doing worse than print when it comes to the share of people’s news consumption is radio: just 6 percent of those surveyed by Gallup said they primarily get their news from radio, with one percent mentioning National Public Radio and one percent choosing talk radio as their main source.

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Not surprisingly, the percentage of people who chose the internet vs. print changed fairly dramatically depending on the age of the respondent: in the 30-49 age group, almost 30 percent said the internet was their main source of news, while just 6 percent chose print. In the older group — 65 and over — just six percent chose the internet and almost 20 percent chose print.

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Gallup said that this was the first time they had asked such an open-ended question about where Americans get their news, but noted that in 1957 the polling company asked survey respondents which they would find most difficult to give up — radio, television, the newspaper, or magazines. About 45 percent of those who answered said TV would be the hardest, followed by newspapers at 27 percent and radio at 21 percent.

Although the numbers are different, the Gallup poll’s broad trends are similar to those found in other surveys about news consumption such as the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which released a large study last year that showed TV news and print newspapers were declining in popularity as a news source, particularly with younger consumers.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Shutterstock / Ruggiero Scardigno

  1. This can be encouraging or troubling, depending upon your point of view. TV news is abysmally incomplete and oriented towards sensationlism. Its coverage of politics and the economy is awful.

    The problem with online content as a news source is that people tend to lock onto preferred providers and don’t see or expose themselves to anything else. No wonder the Times and the WSJ are mentioned so often. (This applies to TV as well, with Fox and CNN capturing most viewers’ attention).

    Radio, if it weren’t for NPR, would be news-free.

    That leaves publications — newpapers, especially. I still like to read a newpaper or two every day, but online, and I suspect most people are trending in that direction. Increasingly, however, local papers appear to have given up coverage of lots of subjects: education, business, arts & culture, politics, etc., in favor of “lifestyle” articles and endless feature stories.

    For a news junkie, there’s more sources than ever before, except they’re not in the places we used to frequent.

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  2. Good news for television, not surprising yet sad for print. Not surprising that radio fares so poorly. Too few broadcast owners do the level of quality newsgathering that was done decades ago. Some radio stations do no news at all.

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  3. Not enough people surveyed for this to really be taken seriously.

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  4. The trend away from #oldmedia has been going on for decades.

    Amazing to see that so many people still want someone to read tweet to them hours later, or print it on paper a day later.

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