The Internet, as a source of national and international news, is gaining on TV among U.S. TV viewers and has surpassed TV as the main news source among young people, a new Pew survey found.
Results from a national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released Jan. 4 revealed that while TV continues to be the dominant source (with 66 percent citing television), 41 percent say they now get the majority of their national and international news from the Internet, up 17 points from 2007.
However, the survey, conducted Dec. 1-5, 2010, among 1500 adults via cell phone and landlines, found that among those younger than 30, the Internet has replaced TV as the main source of news. According to Pew, since 2007 those 18 to 29 years old who identified the Internet as their top source of news has grown from 34 percent to 65 percent. Concurrently, the percentage of young people who said TV was their main national and international news source dropped from 64 percent to 52 percent. (According to Pew, figures can add up to more than 100 percent because respondents were given the chance to select two main sources.)
According to Pew, the Internet also is on track to challenge TV as the main national and international news source among 30- to 49-year-olds. The latest findings revealed that among this age group, 63 percent identified TV as its main source, a decline of eight points from 2007, and 48 percent cited the Internet as the top source, up 16 points.
Television remains clearly the main news source among 50- to 64-year-olds. Of this group, 71 percent said TV was their main news source; however, even among this group, a significant percentage identified the Internet as their main source. Fully 34 percent of this group cited the Internet as their top news source, compared to 38 percent who identified newspapers. Among those older than 65, the main news source selection was TV with 79 percent and newspapers with 47 percent. The Internet gained 9 points from 2007 to 14 percent with this group.
The survey also revealed that TV remains the main source of national and international news among the less affluent and less educated. According to Pew, among those with no more than a high school education, 75 percent identified TV as their main news source, compared to 29 percent who cited the Internet. Among college graduates and those with some college, the difference was less significant: 51 percent cited the Internet and 54 percent identified TV among the former, and 51 percent vs. 63 percent cited the Internet vs. TV among the latter.
When household income was considered, the difference also was pronounced. Among households earning $75,000 or more, 54 percent identified TV as the top news source vs. 51 percent for the Internet. However, 72 percent of those with household incomes of less than $30,000 identified TV as their main news source vs. 34 percent who cited the Internet.
The survey also revealed a slight decline over the past year in the percentage of people who get most of their national and international news from broadcast networks (39 percent vs. 36 percent) and cable news networks (24 percent vs. 22 percent). However, the percentage of people who get most of their national and international news from local news programming held steady at 16 percent.
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Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.