Trylon Communications  - April 2005
       

Surprising Report on News Consumption

A recent article by media industry veteran Merrill Brown in the Carnegie Reporter discusses the challenges faced by news organizations trying to reach younger audiences. The report attempts to assess where these younger people get their news today – and where they may be getting it in the future.

Perhaps surprisingly, local TV ranked as the most used news source, with more than 70 percent of the age group using it at least once a week and over half at least three times a week. Meanwhile, the second-most-used weekly news source, the Internet, was number one amongst men, high-income groups, and broadband users.

The 18-34 demographic intends to continue increasing its use of the Internet as a primary news source, according to the report. Newspapers and national television broadcast news fare poorly with this group, as the future news consumers and leaders of a complex, modern society abandon the news as we've known it. It’s increasingly clear that a great number of them will never return to daily newspapers and national broadcast news programs.

And with most Internet users now connecting via high-speed broadband services, daily use of the Internet among all groups is likely to continue climbing. Internet portals have emerged in the survey as the most frequently cited daily news source, with 44 percent of respondents using portals at least once a day for news.

Other notable findings revealed by the survey:

  • Although ranked as the third most important news source, newspapers have no clear strengths and are the least preferred choice for local, national and international news.

  • News has to be produced specifically for and directed to the audiences of the future, and must reach them in the ways they want. New products could be built around information services designed for the Internet, or for cellular and multimedia delivery.

The report concludes, “While the outright collapse of large news organizations is hardly imminent, as the new century progresses, it's hard to escape the fact that their franchises have eroded and their futures are far from certain. A turnaround is certainly possible, but only for those news organizations willing to invest time, thought and resources into engaging their audiences, especially younger consumers. The trend lines are clear. So is the importance of a dynamic news business to our civic life, to our educational future, and to our democracy.”

A set of PowerPoint slides comprising a distillation of the survey data is available at www.carnegie.org/pdf/AbandoningTheNews.ppt.