Americans Prefer Accessing News Online, Study Finds

A report from Pew Research finds Americans are increasingly turning to online news sources, which offer the benefits of being mobile and socially connected to sites like Facebook or Twitter.

A report from the Pew Research Center found Americans are most likely to get their news online as opposed to reading a newspaper and the overwhelming majority of Americans (92 percent) use multiple platforms to get news on a typical day, including national TV, local TV, the Internet, local newspapers, radio, and national newspapers. Some 46 percent of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms on a typical day. Just seven get their news from a single media platform on a typical day, the report found.

The study's authors reported six in ten Americans (59 percent) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day, and the Internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news. While online, most people say they use between two and five online news sources and 65 percent said they do not have a single favorite website for news. Some 21 percent said they routinely rely on just one site for their news and information.

"The process Americans use to get news is based on foraging and opportunism. They seem to access news when the spirit moves them or they have a chance to check up on headlines," the report noted. "At the same time, gathering the news is not entirely an open-ended exploration for consumers, even online where there are limitless possibilities for exploring news."

America's news reading habits are influenced by three key factors; portability (33 percent of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones), personality and participation. The study found 28 percent of Internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them, while 37 percent of Internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

More than half of American adults (56 percent) said they follow the news "all or most of the time," and another quarter (25 percent) follow the news at least "some of the time." Asked specifically about their news habits on "a typical day," a whopping 99 percent of American adults said that on a typical day, they get news from at least one of these media platforms: a local or national print newspaper, a local or national television news broadcast, radio, or the Internet.

"To a great extent, people's experience of news, especially on the internet, is becoming a shared social experience as people swap links in emails, post news stories on their social networking site feeds, highlight news stories in their Tweets, and haggle over the meaning of events in discussion threads," the report noted. "For instance, more than 8 in 10 online news consumers get or share links in e-mails. The rise of the Internet as a news platform has been an integral part of these changes."