By BENNY EVANGELISTA
San Francisco Chronicle
March 02, 2010
The Web has become the third-most-popular way Americans receive news, behind local and national TV broadcasts, although the majority turn to several online and offline news sources on any given day, according to the Pew Research Center study.
The study paints a picture of American news consumption in 2010 as being a constantly flowing river of information, running 24 hours a day and allowing people to "dip in and dip out," depending on their interests, said Pew Internet Director Lee Rainie.
"News is an ongoing process. It's not something that ends," Rainie said. "There are people who amplify it or dissect it or figure out what angle was missed. There's much more of an element of the continuous conversation of news."
The Pew Internet and American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism commissioned the survey of 2,259 adults in December and January to show how consumers' relationship with the news is changing to one based on "foraging and opportunism," the report said.
"They seem to access news when the spirit moves them or they have a chance to check up on headlines," the report said. They send e-mail, "highlight news stories in their tweets and haggle over the meaning of events in discussion threads."
About 59 percent of Americans get news from online and offline sources, including local television stations (78 percent), national TV networks (73 percent) and the Internet (61 percent), the report said.
And 54 percent listen to radio news, while 50 percent read a local newspaper, although only 17 percent said they read a national newspaper. Meanwhile, just 7 percent said they get their news from a single source and only 35 percent have a favorite site.
The study also found that of the 57 percent of Americans who use social-networking sites like Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn, about half receive their news from people they follow. Also, 6 percent of all Internet users get news through Twitter posts.
About one-fifth of social-network users follow news organizations or individual journalists to get news, treating them "as nodes in their social networks," the report said.
The report also found that 37 percent have "contributed to the creation of news," meaning they have commented on a news story, posted a link on a social network, created their own news or opinion piece or sent a Twitter message about the news.
"People use their social networks and social-networking technology to filter, assess and react to the news," the report said.
In the past, when media was dominated by newspapers, TV and radio, people could write a letter to the editor or call a news tip line to get involved in the news. But with the Internet, especially in the past five years with the rise of social networks, people have the tools to easily participate in the news stream, Rainie said.
"It's a much more engaged audience," he said. "If you're really into news, this is paradise."
News has become more portable, with more people using laptops and other mobile devices. The study found that 33 percent of adults have access to news on a cell phone, and they use it for weather reports, current events or sports scores.
While news has become even more important for people to use as "social currency" in their interactions with others, media companies that have been hard hit by declining audiences and revenue because of the Internet still have to find ways to profit from the trend, Rainie said.
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com
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