Blog Post

News Has "Become a Social Experience": Pew

Do you catch up on the news in multiple ways during a typical day — on a mobile phone, on the web, via a newspaper — and get that news from more than one place (major news portal, TV broadcast channel)? And do you like to share that news through social networks and comment on it? Then you are today’s archetypal news consumer, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life and the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The study shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans — more than 90 percent — use multiple platforms to get their daily news, that the days of loyalty to a specific news outlet or brand are gone and that news has “become a social experience.”

The study (which is based on a national telephone survey of 2,259 adults ages 18 and older), also found that the Internet has taken over from newspapers as the most popular source of news. Overall, the Internet came third, behind local and national television. The report paints a picture of a news consumer who is platform-agnostic and moves easily between online and offline sources. “Americans have become news grazers both on and offline,” Amy Mitchell, deputy director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, was quoted as saying. Among the study’s findings:

  • Six in ten of those surveyed (59 percent) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day.
  • Six in ten American adults (61 percent) get news online on a typical day, and 71 percent of Americans get news online at least occasionally.
  • 33 percent of cell phone owners now access news on the devices.
  • The majority of online news consumers (57 percent) routinely rely on just two to five web sites for their news, and only 35 percent have a favorite.
  • Portal web sites like Google (s goog) News, AOL (s aol) and Topix are the most commonly used online news sources, visited by over half of online news users (56 percent) on a typical day.

Another key finding of the report is that news has become a social experience for many consumers, who not only share the news they find with their friends through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, but are also increasingly using such tools to find their news in the first place. And once they find it, they want to talk about it and become involved in it. A statement released along with the study says:

The rise of social media like social networking sites and blogs has helped the news become a social experience for consumers; people use their social networks and social networking technology to filter, assess, and react to news. They also use traditional email and other tools to swap stories and comment on them.

Kristen Purcell, associate director for research at the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, said that “we see new segments of avid news consumers built around those who have set up news alerts and those who are eager to be part of the news-creation and news-commentary environment.” Overall, the study found that consumers’ relationship to the news is “becoming portable, personalized, and participatory.” In particular it found that:

  • 28 percent of Internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.
  • 37 percent of Internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Among those who get news online, 75 percent get it forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52 percent share links to news with others via those means.

While the Pew Report doesn’t contain any earth-shattering news about what the state of online media looks like right now, it confirms what anyone who has been paying attention to the industry — or even to the behavior of their friends and relatives — instinctively knows: news consumption has become mobile, cross-platform and social. If you are a media outlet but aren’t taking advantage of all of these features, and rethinking how they affect your business, then you’e missing the boat.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Are Sponsored Apps the Key for Traditional Media in Mobile?

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr user Zarko Drincic

17 Responses to “News Has "Become a Social Experience": Pew”

  1. It’s surprising that there are still people reading news nowadays. For me it depends on what the occupation of a person is, it shows that most people whose work is related on the internet mainly read news online….

  2. Matthew, if time and space and place allow; for fun, google “I Just Can’t Live (Without my Daily Snailpaper)” on Youtube or google Google blogs and listen. It’s about the future of the news biz, with humour! Bill Keller’s in it, as are Maureen Dowd and Dave Brooks…. it’s for print journos mostly…. but screen writers will get a smile too….

  3. Does anyone else wonder what kind of skewing resulted from this being a telephone-based survey? I mean, most the tech savvy people I know don’t have landlines and many non-tech people I know only use a landline for their fax machine.

    Who was answering?

  4. I don’t find this surprising as the new trend of going green and the advancements in technology. Especially with people on the move, it is just more economical and convenient to go the electronic route compared to the traditional newspapers.

  5. My favorite history of news nugget is that America papers originally had a blank page at the back. People would write notes and opinions and pass the paper on…

    Social is so 18th century.

  6. neilbudde

    Personalization is the aspect of this report that I find most interesting, but then we at DailyMe have been working for years to make that happen, and our Newstogram platform is ready to assist other news sites it doing it.

  7. Lilly Floes

    “[the study] also found that the Internet has taken over from newspapers as the most popular source of news. Overall, the Internet came third, behind local and national television.”

    Something about the use of the word “most” in your sentence, coupled with the following sentence’s use of “third” is confusing.