Survey: Radio, Online Usage Up, Newspaper, TV Usage Down

A new study shows that Americans have increased their use of radio and online as sources of news and information, while relying less on daily newspapers and TV. In the second year of a media use and credibility survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. and sponsored by ARAnet, daily newspaper usage dropped 4.1 percent and TV usage dropped 3.6 percent, while radio usage increased 2.9 percent and online usage increased 1.9 percent. Credibility ratings for nearly all types of media rose slightly from a year ago.

The national study of 1,000 adults measured the percentage of news and information Americans receive from various media sources each month. Consumers reported getting 31 percent of their news and information from television, and 19.4 percent from both radio and daily newspapers.

The media use rankings of the survey, conducted by phone Sept 10-13, 2009, were:

  • • Television: 31.1 percent (down from 34.7 percent a year ago)
  • • Daily newspaper: 19.4 percent (down from 23.5 percent)
  • • Radio: 19.4 percent (up from 16.5 percent)
  • • Online: 14.6 percent (up from 12.7 percent)
  • • Weekly community papers: 4.4 percent (down from 5.1 percent)
  • • Free shopper newspapers: 2.9 percent (up from 2.2 percent)
  • • Magazines: 2.1 percent (up from 1.6 percent)

The survey also measured media use among specific demographic groups. A trend to watch is the increased use of online sources for news and information among the college educated, Hispanics and people making more than $100,000 per year, compared to the general population. And, of course, the younger the respondent, the more likely they are to rely on online sources.

  • • Respondents with household incomes of $100,000 or more receive considerably more news and information from online sources (23.1 percent versus 14.6 percent for the general population).
  • • College graduates reported using online sources more frequently (20.0 percent).
  • • People 18-to-34 reported the highest reliance on online sources (22.2 percent).
  • • Hispanic respondents were more likely to prefer online sources (21.0 percent).

According to prominent marketing, social media and public relations blogger Dave Fleet, "The survey results – especially that high earners and college graduates are continuing to move toward online sources of news and information and that the credibility of those sources is on the rise – reinforce that Americans are continuing to change the way they consume media. While traditional media isn’t going away any time soon, this does change how we as marketers reach these sought-after consumers,” Fleet says.

Scott Severson, president of survey sponsor ARAnet, which provides content to newspapers and Web sites through its ARAcontent article service and Adfusion ad network, says, “The data showing an increase in online use and drop in daily newspaper consumption echoes what we’re hearing from consumers and media partners. Consumers want more of their information online, and companies like ours are consistently delivering credible content online.” The ARAnet survey also gauged which media sources Americans view as the most credible sources of news and information. With the exception of television, which dropped a tenth of a rating point, all media types stayed steady or increased slightly in credibility from a year ago. Survey respondents assigned credibility scores ranging from one for “not at all credible” to 10 for “extremely credible” to seven types of media:

  • • Television: 6.5 on a scale of one-to-10 (down .1 from a year ago)
  • • Daily newspaper: 6.3 (same as last year)
  • • Radio: 6.3 (up .3 from a year ago)
  • • Online: 5.7 (up .1)
  • • Weekly community papers: 5.4 (up .2)
  • • Magazines: 4.9 (up .3)
  • • Free shopper newspapers: 4.3 (up .8)

Other survey findings included:

  • • College graduates are more likely to trust online news (giving online a 6.3 rating versus the 5.7 rating by the general population), and are less likely to trust television news (giving TV a 6.1 rating versus the 6.5 rating by the general population).
  • • Respondents with household incomes of $100,000 and above trust online sources considerably more than the general population (giving online a 6.5 rating, compared to the 5.7 rating by the general population). Higher-income respondents also view daily newspapers as more credible (6.8 versus the 6.3 overall rating).