This week’s stunning Pew Research report “Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Source” is a wake-up call for the broadcast industry.
The Pew Research Center for the Public and the Press has been tracking media usage since the turn of the century, and for the first time ever, the Internet has surpassed newspapers as the main source of national and international news for people overall, but the big story, in my opinion, is what’s happening with young people.
According to Pew, as many people aged 18–29 cite the Internet as their main source of news as they do television. This is the canary in the coal mine for broadcasters, who, like newspapers, have been struggling with an aging mass audience for years. No longer is it a guess that the Web is the future for news and information (although it never really was a guess, the handwriting being obvious for over a decade).
Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%).
The percentage of people younger than 30 citing television as a main news source has declined from 68% in September 2007 to 59% currently.
The spike in the use of the Web for news by young people is truly remarkable, and it mirrors a previous study by Pew during the Presidential campaign.
One caveat for this study is that it only looks at national and international news. Newspapers and television stations still dominate local news, but it would be foolish to assume safety in any mass marketing incumbent. There are plenty of online local news efforts underway, and it’s just a matter of time before the Web dominates at the local level as well.