Net passes newspapers for news, and for the young, TV too

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.(Image via Pew Research)

More Americans are getting their news from the Internet than from newspapers, according to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press. This is the first time the Web has eclipsed print since the study started asking about the Internet in 1999 [pdf].


Television is still the dominant source for news in the U.S., with 70% of respondents saying they got most of their news from TV (down from 74% last year). Forty percent said the Web was their No. 1 source -- up from 24% last year -- and 35% chose newspapers.

Perhaps just as noteworthy was the study’s finding that as many young people say they get their news from the Web as TV (both about 59%). That’s again way up from September 2007, when only 34% of young people cited the Internet as their news source of choice.

The study didn’t ask users to get into specifics about their online news reading, so we don’t know how much of the news consumption was done on blogs, aggregators or mainstream news media sites.

The Pew study is another brick in the wall for the physical newspaper, an increasingly obsolete medium that is unlikely to see a resurgence in popularity. By the same token, the study reconfirms that the journalism that’s printed in the newspaper is as popular as ever. It’s a major conundrum for news organizations. People are increasingly consuming a digital version of their decreasingly popular print product, often in far greater numbers, but the capacity to generate revenue from the online version is still incredibly weak.

Will the news industry be content to shrink to a size that can be completely supported by online ad revenue? Or will the industry get smart and work on a technological solution -- a next-generation pay system that will ask users to give a little back for the information they’re receiving?

-- David Sarno