Pew: Online News Users Don’t Want To Pay — Or Look At Ads

The latest report on online news economics from Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism is one of those studies that will bolster just about any view people have about paying for news online. Want to show that news consumers are unwilling to pay? Results from a national phone survey conducted by the Pew Internet Project and PEJ in late December and January show that 82 percent will go somewhere else to get news if their favorite site starts charging. Want to back up the idea that enough people are willing to pay to make it worthwhile? Mention the 19 percent who are willing to pay and/or already paying.

But be prepared to deal with the mildly tricky language there: only 35 percent told Pew they had a favorite news site, which means the number the study says would be willing to pay is closer to 7 percent of all online news users. What kind of payment? Those with a favorite site prefer a subscription fee to micropayments by 54 percent to 24 percent.

Online advertising: The same survey looked at attitudes to online advertising: 81 percent said they didn’t mind online ads but 77 percent said they either don’t click on them (42 percent) or “hardly ever” click (35 percent). Younger users and the most frequent online news users are slightly more likely to pay attention to ads but not by a large enough number to suggest online advertising is a slam dunk.

The report is part of the larger State of the News Media 2010 released today. The internet results are based on Princeton Survey Research Associates International survey of 1,675 adults (2,259 total) between December 28, 2009, and January 19, 2010, with a plus-minus of 2.7 percent.