Nick Madigan, Baltimore Sun
People looking for local news still tend to reach for their hometown newspaper, but television and the Internet continue to draw away significant numbers of readers, according to a national survey being released today.
A survey by the market research business Outsell Inc., which echoes other recent studies, determined that 61 percent of consumers look to their newspapers as an essential source for local news, events and sports, followed by television (58 percent) and radio (35 percent). About 6 percent turn to the major Internet search engines for local news and information.
The survey of 2,800 consumers’ news habits found that television is consumers’ top choice for national news. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they rely on network, cable and satellite TV as primary or secondary sources of national news. Thirty-three percent choose their local newspapers first or second for coverage of national events, followed by 28 percent who access sites such as Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL News. Eleven percent of consumers are relying regularly on their daily newspapers’ Web sites, the survey said.
Consumers, the study found, “prefer the Web as the best route to news and information about health, personal finance and travel.”
In addition, it said, the “interactivity and personalization afforded by the Internet” has not only cut into newspaper readership but has weakened the link between reading and shopping, which ultimately costs publishers money.
“It’s going to be really interesting to see whether newspapers are going to be able to capitalize on the Internet from a financial point of view,” said Rachel Smolkin, managing editor of American Journalism Review. “Even as newspaper circulation is declining, we’re seeing readership increases in newspaper Web sites. It’s not that readers aren’t interested in news.”
In a recent Harris Interactive poll of 2,985 U.S. adults, 75 percent of those surveyed said they watch local broadcast news and 71 percent said they watch network news.
The Harris poll also found that 64 percent of people get their news by going online and that 54 percent listen to radio news broadcasts, 37 percent listen to talk radio and 19 percent listen to satellite news programming.
A third poll found that as the pace of modernization has accelerated worldwide, so has computer use and access to the Internet. The Pew Global Attitudes survey found substantially more people using computers and going online than in 2002.
And the poll found that although Internet users in 2002 were predominantly younger people, the growth rate for adults older than 50 has outpaced that for young adults in the United States and Western Europe.