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Pew: Internet Overtakes Newspapers in 2008 as Source of News

9:27 AM, Jan 7, 2009 • By GARY ANDRES
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Pew Research reports more bad news for the struggling traditional newspaper business. According to a survey released last month, the Internet overtook newspapers for the first time in 2008 as the main source of domestic and international news. Forty percent of Americans responded that the Internet was one of their main sources of information, compared to only 35 percent who cite newspapers. This is the first time the Internet topped newspapers, according to the Pew studies. Television still remains the primary basis of news for most Americans (70 percent chose TV, according to the poll. The numbers don't add to 100 percent because respondents could choose more than one response category). But even these numbers are changing a lot looking at different demographic groups.

The numbers for younger Americans (18-29) are particularly striking. Pew writes:

For young people, however, the internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. 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%).

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The percentage of people younger than 30 citing television as a main news source has declined from 68% in September 2007 to 59% currently. This mirrors a trend seen earlier this year in campaign news consumption. (See "Internet Now Major Source of Campaign News," News Interest Index, Oct. 31, 2008.)

The Pew study doesn't break down how many people use the Internet to access newspapers' websites. No doubt many who read the NewYorkTimes.com or WashingtonPost.com picked "the internet" in the survey. The shift, however, to new modes of information consumption are dramatic and striking. These changes will not only continue the tumult in the newspaper business, but will also significantly impact advertising strategies.